SLAVERY IN MAURITANIA AND SUDAN
Y 4. IN 8/16:SL 1
Slavery in Mauritania and Sudan; 10...
INTERNATIONAL OPERATIONS AND HUMAN RIGHTS
HOUSE OP REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED FOURTH CONGRESS
MARCH 13, 1996
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SLAVERY IN MAURITANIA AND SUDAN
Y 4. IN 8/16:SL 1
Slavery in flauritania and Sudan* 10...
INTERNATIONAL OPERATIONS AND HUMAN RIGHTS
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED FOURTH CONGRESS
MARCH 13, 1996
Printed for the use of the Committee on International Relations
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COMMITTEE ON INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
BENJAMIN A. OILMAN. New York, Chairman
WILLIAM F. GOODLING, Pennsylvania
JAMES A. LEACH, Iowa
TOBY ROTH, Wisconsin
HENRY J. HYDE, Illinois
DOUG BEREUTER, Nebraska
CHRISTOPHER H. SMITH, New Jersey
DAN BURTON, Indiana
JAN MEYERS, Kansas
ELTON GALLEGLY, California
ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN, Florida
CASS BALLENGER, North Carolina
DANA ROHRABACHER, California
DONALD A. MANZULLO, Illinois
EDWARD R. ROYCE, California
PETER T. KING, New York
JAY KIM, California
SAM BROWNBACK, Kansas
DAVID FUNDERBURK, North Carolina
STEVEN J. CHABOT, Ohio
MARSHALL "MARK" SANFORD, South
MATT SALMON, Arizona
AMO HOUGHTON, New York
TOM CAMPBELL, California
LEE H. HAMILTON, Indiana
SAM GEJDENSON, Connecticut
TOM LANTOS, California
ROBERT G. TORRICELLI, New Jersey
HOWARD L. BERMAN, California
GARY L. ACKERMAN, New York
HARRY JOHNSTON, Florida
ELIOT L. ENGEL, New York
ENI F.H. FALEOMAVAEGA, American
MATTHEW G. MARTINEZ, California
DONALD M. PAYNE, New Jersey
ROBERT E. ANDREWS, New Jersey
ROBERT MENENDEZ, New Jersey
SHERROD BROWN, Ohio
CYNTHIA A. McKINNEY, Georgia
ALCEE L. HASTINGS, Florida
ALBERT RUSSELL WYNN, Maryland
JAMES P. MORAN, Virginia
VICTOR O. FRAZER, Virgin Islands (Ind.)
CHARLIE ROSE, North Carolina
PAT DANNER, Missouri
Richard J. Garon, Chief of Staff
MICHAEL H. Van DUSEN, Democratic Chief of Staff
Subcommittee on International Operations and Human Rights
CHRISTOPHER H. SMITH, New Jersey, Chairman
BENJAMIN A. GILMAN, New York TOM LANTOS, California
WILLIAM F. GOODLING, Pennsylvania CYNTHIA A. McKINNEY, Georgia
HENRY J. HYDE, Illinois JAMES P. MORAN, Virginia
PETER T KING New York HOWARD L. BERMAN, California
DAVID FUNDERBURK, North Carolina ENI F.H. FALEOMAVAEGA, American
MATT SALMON, Arizona Samoa
EDWARD R. ROYCE, California DONALD M. PAYNE, New Jersey
GROVER JOSEPH REES, Subcommittee Staff Director and Chief Counsel
ROBERT R. KING, Democratic Professional Staff Member
Stephanie E. Schmidt, Staff Associate
Subcommittee on Africa
ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN, Florida, Chairperson
TOBY ROTH Wisconsin GARY L. ACKERMAN, New York
SAM BROWNBACK, Kansas HARRY JOHNSTON, Florida
STEVEN J. CHABOT, Ohio ELIOT L. ENGEL, New York
MARSHALL "MARK" SANFORD, South DONALD M. PAYNE, New Jersey
Caro l ina ALCEE L. HASTINGS, Florida
MATT SALMON, Arizona VICTOR O. FRAZIER, Virgin Islands
AMO HOUGHTON, New York
MAURICIO J. TaMARGO, Subcommittee Staff Director
PHILIP CHRISTENSON, Deputy Staff Director
DAVID ADAMS, Democratic Professional Staff Member
Mr. Willliam H. Twaddell, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of African
Affairs, U.S. Department of State 3
Mr. Samuel Cotton, Executive Director, Coalition Against Slavery in Mauri-
tania and Sudan 22
Dr. Charles Jacobs, Research Director, American Anti-Slavery Group 24
Mr. Mohamed Nacir Athie, Executive Director, International Coalition
Against Chattel Slavery 26
Mr. Mervyn M. Dymally, Member of Congress, retired 28
Baroness Caroline Cox, Deputy Speaker, House of Lords ............ 46
Dr. Gaspar Biro, Special Human Rights Rapporteur to the United Nations ..." 49
Dr. Kevin Vigilante, Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine, Brown Univer-
sity School of Medicine 51
Mr. Augustine Lado, President, Pax Sudani """!!!"!"". 53
Hon. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen 69
Mr. William H. Twaddell ....!!™"ZZ!'.!!!!!Z" 71
Mr. Samuel Cotton 79
Dr. Charles Jacobs 83
Mr. Mohamed Nacir Athie 97
Mr. Mervyn M. Dymally ' 99
Baroness Caroline Cox 103
Dr. Gaspar Biro ' 117
Dr. Kevin Vigilante 119
Mr. Augustine Lado 125
Statement submitted for the record by Sudan Peoples' Liberation Movement/
^ Arn ?y v 130
Questions submitted for the record to Mr. William H. Twaddell and responses
SLAVERY IN MAURITANIA AND SUDAN
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 13, 1996
House of Representatives,
Committee on International Relations,
Subcommittee on International Operations and Human
Rights, Joint with Subcommittee on Africa,
The subcommittees met, pursuant to notice at 2 p.m. in room
2172, Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, DC, Hon.
Christopher H. Smith, (chairman of the Subcommittee on Inter-
national Operations and Human Rights), and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen,
(chair of the Subcommittee on Africa) presiding.
Mr. Smith. This hearing of the Subcommittee on International
Operations and Human Rights and the Subcommittee on Africa
will come to order.
Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.
The testimony we will hear today is about the practice of human
chattel slavery. Most of us had believed that to a large extent this
horrible practice belonged only in the past. But several of our wit-
nesses today will tell us of having seen it firsthand, having spoken
with slaves as well as with their slave masters.
According to accounts by anti-slavery activists, including some of
our witnesses today, chattel slavery in Mauritania and Sudan is
substantially identical to slavery as it was practiced in other cen-
turies. It represents the subjugation of one race by another, or
often of members of one religious group by members of the other.
It frequently includes the grossest forms of degradation of women
and children. Slavery is not to be confused with similar institutions
such as serfdom or indentured servitude; however wrong these in-
stitutions are. They involve only the ownership of one person's
labor by another. In true slavery, the heinous practice of slavery,
as we will hear is being practiced today, the master owns the
slave's body. He owns the right to decide whom the slave will
marry. When babies are born, the master owns the babies and can
buy and can sell them. True slavery is about treating people as
though they were not people, as though they were things without
We will also hear today from former Congressman Mervyn Dym-
ally, who represents the Government of Mauritania. I understand
that Congressman Dymally will testify that slavery no longer exists
in Mauritania, at least officially, and that the government is doing
its best to eliminate the so-called vestiges of slavery. We will clear-
ly give him a respectful hearing, but we will also ask him how he
responds to the specific charges of people who say that they have
seen slavery firsthand.
The civilized world owes a debt of gratitude to the modern anti-
slavery movement, some of whose leaders are here today.
I would also like to personally thank Barbara Ledeen of the Inde-
pendent Women's Forum who has been tireless in bringing this
issue to the attention of official Washington.
In the modern world we often speak of fundamental human
rights. Sometimes we say these words without thinking about what
they mean. I believe that the idea of human rights has meaning
only if rights are God-given, inalienable, and indivisible. Slavery is
the ultimate denial of all of these rights. Toleration of slavery, even
when it is far away and in another country, is the ultimate state-
ment of radical cultural relativism. We must do whatever it takes
to abolish slavery. Not only because its victims are our brothers
and sisters, but also because as long as there is anybody in the
world who is a slave, none of us is truly free.
I would like to ask the distinguished chairwoman of the Sub-
committee on Africa, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, if she would have any
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. Thank you so much, Chris. I am glad that
our two subcommittees have been able to work together to bring
public attention to the persistent reports that slavery does indeed
continue to exist in Mauritania and in Sudan.
Slavery, what a shocking topic for a congressional hearing in
1996. We think about slavery as something that we read about in
history class. Something that existed back in the distant past,
something that belongs to a different era. The topic is one that you
would think of as a subject for a historian's society meeting rather
than as a human rights issue of the 1990's. And yet there are cred-
ible reports that slavery still exists and that human beings are still
being bought and sold in Sudan and Mauritania.
If slavery does indeed exist in these countries, then we must do
everything in our power to bring it to an end. There can be no tol-
erance for slavery anywhere in the world. The United Nations re-
ported over a year ago that there is information that shows a mas-
sive increase in the number of cases of slavery, forced servitude,
slave trading and forced labor in Sudan. If there is slavery in
Sudan, then there ought to be international action, effective inter-
national action, to impose severe and universal sanctions against
Sudan. We should impose a broad range of sanctions against Sudan
or against any other country that tolerates slavery or that engages
in slave trading.
With regard to Mauritania, the State Department Human Rights
Report seems to have changed dramatically from last year. For in-
stance, last year's Human Rights Report on Mauritania reported
that with regard to the camp for refugees in that country, "In-
formed estimates are that 10 percent of the 80,000 refugees in cam-
paigns are slaves."
This year's report says nothing whatsoever about those slaves, as
if they simply disappeared. Similarly, the report of the State De-
partment states that, "Tens of thousands of persons whose ances-
tors were slaves still occupy positions of servitude."
I do not understand that State Department's distinction between
being a slave and occupying a position of servitude, and we hope
that the distinction becomes clear today. To say, as this year's
Human Rights Report does, that these people remain in servitude
because of their lack of knowledge about their own status, is to con-
firm that they are still slaves and are treated as slaves by their
This is an important issue and one that deserves and indeed de-
mands congressional action.
I look forward to hearing from the Clinton administration and
from the distinguished panel of experts that we have invited to
share their expertise with us today. Once again, I congratulate
Chairman Smith for his cooperation in this hearing.
Thank you, Chris.
Mr. Smith. Thank you very much.
I would like to welcome and say how pleased we are to have Sec-
retary William Twaddell. Mr. Twaddell joined the Foreign Service
in 1969 and held numerous positions in the Persian Gulf area until
he was appointed ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Mauri-
tania in 1988. In 1991, he left the position to serve as Chief of Mis-
sion in Monrovia, Liberia, until 1995. And in August, he assumed
duties as Deputy Assistant Secretary in African Bureau.
Mr. Secretary, welcome to the subcommittees and we look for-
ward to your testimony.
STATEMENT OF WILLIAM H. TWADDELL, DEPUTY ASSISTANT
SECRETARY, BUREAU OF AFRICAN AFFADIS, U.S. DEPART-
MENT OF STATE
Mr. Twaddell. Thank you. Thank you Mr. Chairman, Madam
I am here today to discuss with you the extent of our knowledge
about a question of great concern to all who are interested in free-
dom and human dignity, the question of slavery today in Mauri-
tania and Sudan.
Our current views on this issue were submitted to the Congress
last week in our "Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for
1995." In addition to the text of the reports on those two countries,
I request your permission to provide for the committee a longer
statement on this question.
Let me summarize, if I might, our main conclusions. Let me
begin with Mauritania.
Our "Human Rights Report for 1995," as Madam Chairman just
quoted, indicates that, "Such practices as coercive slavery and com-
merce in slaves appeared to have virtually disappeared." And con-
cludes, "Reports of involuntary servitude are rare and unconfirmed.
According to the laws of that land, citizens of Mauritania are now
both constitutionally and legally free."
What is at question, however, is whether these constitutional
and legal guarantees have been fully implemented throughout
Mauritanian society. Where there is evidence that the government
of Mauritania has made progress toward ensuring the full emanci-
pation of all its citizens, it is also true, and we continue to hear
reports that slavery exists.
In reviewing this question over the past 16 years, since the de-
cree of July 5, 1980, declaring the emancipation of slaves, we have
noted a number of measures undertaken by the Mauritanian Gov-
ernment. These include ordinances and regulations calling for the
enforcement of that decree of 1980. Public education campaigns
about the practice of slavery and the rights of freed slaves have
been conducted throughout the country, including by radio. Begin-
ning in the early 1980's and continuing into the 1990's, there have
been a number of cases in which judges who failed to apply the
emancipation law were sanctioned or removed from the bench. A
non-governmental organization formed in 1978 by former slaves
has been allowed to work, to inform the population about libera-
tion, and to assist former slaves in their problems with their
The creation of two additional organizations in 1995 dem-
onstrates that the social consequences of centuries of slavery con-
tinues to be felt. It also shows that the government is not posing
obstacles to these actions seeking to remedy this deplorable herit-
Since 1980, we are aware of missions to Mauritania by 13 na-
tional or international organizations for the purpose of investigat-
ing the question of slavery. Nevertheless, we continue to hear re-
ports that slavery exists, not merely vestiges, but slavery itself.
Journalists and other investigators have reported that sales of
slaves continue. Sources have reported that not all Mauritanians
are aware that slavery has been abolished. The government has
been accused by some of being too passive in its efforts to educate
the people concerning their rights and legal status and enforcing
its own laws.
The American Embassy in Nouakchott devotes a significant por-
tion of its time following the question of slavery. We have worked
with American and international organizations interested in this
question and welcome, and I underline, do welcome the opportunity
to consult with them and share information. Naturally, wherever
evidence of the continuing existence of slavery surfaces, we strong-
ly condemn the practice.
It is our hope that as Mauritania progresses, and in particular,
as it develops and improves its economy, increased prosperity, lit-
eracy, and education will create conditions under which the
vestiges of slavery will truly become only an historical memory.
The fact that cases relating to slavery continue to be brought be-
fore the courts indicates that not all former masters have accepted
the law of the land. We will continue to urge the government of
Mauritania to exert additional effort and resources to programs de-
signed to educate its citizens about their rights inferred by their
Turning to Sudan. The United States is gravely concerned re-
garding the continuing pattern of gross violations of human rights
in Sudan, including increased credible reports of slavery. For 12
now, going on 13 years, Sudan has suffered the slow hemorrhaging
of a long bitter civil war. Human rights abuses related to the chaos
and horror of war continue. But there is also a pattern of serious
abuses associated with the government's attempt to subjugate op-
position wherever it is found. One aspect of that campaign may be
the taking of slaves by the army of Sudan or forces under its con-
In addition, all warring parties in Sudan continue the practice of
forced conscription as a means of replenishing the ranks of their
The government of Sudan has denied that slavery exists and re-
fused to investigate such reports or to cooperate with others seek-
ing to do so. This year's State Department Country Report on
Sudan includes a section concerning the persistence of slavery and
the alarming increase in reports of the seizing of civilian captives,
particularly in war zones.
There are also credible but unconfirmed reports that women and
children were sold and sent abroad to work as domestic servants,
agricultural laborers, or sometimes concubines.
In some instances, it is reported that local authorities took action
to stop occurrences of slavery. In other cases, authorities appar-
ently did nothing.
The Administration has not hesitated to bring such concerns be-
fore the international community. And especially before the organs
of the United Nations.
In a November 28th speech before the General Assembly last
year, Ambassador Madeleine Albright stated, "The government of
Sudan remains an egregious violator of internationally recognized
human rights. Over the past year, we have seen increasing reports
of slavery and forced labor of women and children belonging to ra-
cial, ethnic, and religious minorities."
Since 1993, the United States has taken the lead in introducing
resolutions on such abuses, both in the General Assembly and the
U.N. Human Rights Commission. We will do so again at next
week's meeting of the Commission in Geneva, where we will again
introduce a resolution on human rights in Sudan, including a pro-
vision regarding slavery in Sudan, as detailed in the findings of the
Commission's Special Rapporteur.
We continue to fully support his efforts and endorse his rec-
ommendation that monitors be placed in key locations to improve
the quality of available information.
There is no doubt that the human rights situation in Sudan con-
tinues to be appalling and that there is evidence of the practice of
slavery in that war-ravaged country. Unfortunately, the govern-
ment of Sudan has not until now been responsive to the mounting
Mr. Chairman, Madam Chairman, the situations in Mauritania
and Sudan relating to the question of slavery are distinct. What is
consistent, however, is the concern and attention the Administra-
tion devotes to trying to bring the practice to light and to an end.
(The prepared statement of Mr. Twaddell appears in the appen-
Mr. Smith. Thank you, Mr. Secretary, for your testimony. And
without objection, your full comments will be made a part of the
I have a number of questions, and I will yield to my distin-
guished colleagues for any questions that they might have.
Both the Congresswoman of the African Subcommittee and I and
other members of this committee, including my distinguished col-
league from New Jersey, Mr. Payne, have followed this issue for
some time now. I've read the Country Report which suggests that
slavery has virtually disappeared in Mauritania. Then we have tes-
timony today from Charles Jacobs of the American Anti-Slavery
group, that points out that as recently as 1993, the U.S. State De-
partment estimated that up to 90,000 blacks still lived as property
And then we have testimony as well from Samuel Cotton, from
the Coalition Against Slavery in Mauritania and Sudan, who points
out that the practice remains massive and rampant in Mauritania.
The testimony that he has gleaned during his fact finding there
suggests that the charge of slavery is still a way of life in Mauri-
tania. It has simply shifted from the overt to the covert practice.
So while there are paper promises that abound and legal stric-
tures on the books against the overt practice, it seems to have gone
underground based on testimony and evidence that both of our sub-
committees have received. And there are volumes of it.
How does the State Department respond to that, especially in
light of their claim that it has, "virtually disappeared"?
Mr. Twaddell. Mr. Chairman and Madam Chairman, I do thank
you for underlining the apparent discrepancy between the numbers
cited last year and this year's report.
As I was reviewing this material, it occurred to me that there is
a very plausible cause for confusion. And if I may, I would like to
read the three operative paragraphs from this year's Human Rights
Report concerning Mauritania, because it does, I think, go a bit to
the point of what you brought up, Mr. Chairman and Madam
Chairman — chattel versus servitude.
"Mauritania has officially abolished slavery several times, most
recently in 1980. Nevertheless, the legacy of slavery remains in its
economic and psychological manifestations. And there are reports
of persons continuing to live in conditions of involuntary servitude.
Tens of thousands of persons whose ancestors were slaves still oc-
cupy positions of servitude and near servitude, although such prac-
tices as coercive slavery and commerce in slaves appear to have
virtually disappeared. In most cases, those remaining in a situation
of unpaid or poorly paid servitude do so for lack of better alter-
natives or lack of knowledge about their own status. Some freed
slaves, Haratines, have either stayed with or returned to their
former masters and continued to provide labor in exchange for
room, board and other basic necessities. Others live independently
but continue in a symbiotic relationship with their former masters,
performing occasional paid or unpaid labor in exchange for food,
clothing and medical care.
"There are no reliable statistics for the number of Haratines who
continue to work for the same families for which they worked be-
fore the emancipation of 1980, whether as paid or unpaid labor. Re-
ports of cases of involuntary servitude are rare and unconfirmed."
I believe those are the two. There is another paragraph that ad-
dresses the question of custody and inheritance, but those cited I
think accurately portray the situation that our staff in Nouakchott,
as well as our researchers back here, believe describe the situation
as of 1995.
Mr. Smith. Let me just ask you. How do you respond to the as-
sertion that it has just simply gone underground and that 90,000
people are enslaved. I mean if they were indeed freed, I think there
would have been some evidence of that other than an explanation
that, because of a symbiotic relationship or some other reason,
former slaves have just stayed with their "masters"?
And what kind of reporting do we actually get? I mean we have
heard that the sale of slaves no longer occurs in the public square.
It occurs behind closed doors, often in private residences and things
of that kind.
So, you know, it may be out of the sight of our investigators or
our embassy people.
Mr. Twaddell. Well, in fact, we would welcome any indications
or any evidence or any leads that we could pursue concerning the
sale or the transfer of human beings. When we have asked some
of those journalists and investigators for particulars that we might
pursue, unfortunately the particulars have not been forthcoming in
a way that was timely or inclusive enough to enable our people on
the ground or indeed other international investigators to specifi-
cally identify such cases.
Mr. Smith. How many people do we have on the ground, working
on this at the embassy?
Mr. Twaddell. Our embassy staff there is greatly reduced from
what it was a few years ago. I believe we have six Foreign Service
officers. This includes one full-time reporting officer, the Ambas-
sador and the Deputy Chief of Mission.
Mr. Smith. How many Foreign Service personnel are dedicated
to this issue?
Mr. Twaddell. I would say the Ambassador, the Deputy Chief
of Mission, and the political reporting officer take this as a large
part of their portfolio.
Mr. Smith. So the Ambassador is going house to house?
Mr. Twaddell. The Ambassador, when she has indications of
such an instance, has in the past been available and prepared to
go and pursue those lines of inquiry.
Mr. Smith. Can you tell the subcommittees why the Anti-Slavery
International Organization, the world's largest or oldest, I should
say, human rights group is not allowed to monitor conditions in
Mauritania? I mean you made the statement that there is a seem-
ing openness on the part of the government to allow organizations,
yet we know that several have been excluded from onsite investiga-
tions and reporting which would obviously greatly assist our own
government in its job.
Mr. Twaddell. I believe, Mr. Chairman, that Anti-Slavery Inter-
national has been allowed on the ground and conducted investiga-
tions. With regard to remaining to monitor, I am not sure what
their objectives were. But in fact in 1992, the Anti-Slavery Inter-
national conducted investigations in Nouakchott.
Mr. Smith. The key word is "monitor." One-shot deals do take a
snapshot of the situation, but much can be hidden and cloaked in
those kinds of settings, which is why monitoring is so important,
to ensure that they get an accurate long-range look, especially
since the 90,000 people from your testimony — I do not have a sense
of an accounting for those people as to where they are.
Mr. Twaddell. Mr. Chairman, we would welcome and, in fact,
we have urged the government of Mauritania not only to receive
these investigative groups but to be fully cooperative with them. If
Anti-Slavery International or others felt it worthwhile to create a
permanent presence there, I think that is a recommendation that
we could support.
Mr. Smith. You have testified that beginning in the early 1980's
and continuing to the 1990's, there were a number of cases in
which judges who failed to apply the new law were sanctioned or
removed from the bench.
How many judges were so sanctioned and removed from the
bench, and, conversely, how many received no penalty or perhaps
only a slap on the wrist?
And how do we define sanctions? I mean what does the govern-
ment of Mauritania impose on a judge who has not fulfilled the let-
ter and spirit of the law?
Mr. Twaddell. Mr. Chairman, from my recollection, I believe
that there are cited in various of the documents with the commit-
tee three or four judges that have been either sanctioned or re-
moved from the bench for failing to factor the emancipation of 1980
into their decisions. I do not have the years, but I believe in our
longer statement submitted for the record, there is reference to
Mr. Smith. So "a number of cases" refers to three or four judges?
Mr. Twaddell. These cases follow a certain pattern and they
have had to do with custody of individuals who a former master
claimed to be theirs. This would be directly to the issue of chattel
or inheritance or transfer. These are cases that have been brought
before the courts of Mauritania, have received publicity, and when
the judges in those cases ruled or seemed to be ruling in favor of
the former master, those rulings were overturned and the judges
Mr. Smith. Can you tell the subcommittee how many judges
were not sanctioned when they did not follow the law?
Mr. Twaddell. I believe that all others followed the law. These
stood out because they were in contradiction
Mr. Smith. Do you have any evidence of that?
Mr. Twaddell. I will have to research that for you, Mr. Chair-
man. I do not have that in my questions and answers.
(The response of Mr. Twaddell follows:)
There are no official records kept by the Mauritanian Government of the number
of judges removed for failing to apply the anti-slavery law and the total number of
such cases in general.
The details of publicized cases to which I referred follow. In March 1995, a judge
in Nouadhibou, Mr. Mohameden Ould Sidi Brahim, was removed permanently from
the corps of judges for incompetence, related to his refusal to recognize a former
slave's right to inherit property. Another case reported by the U.N. Commission on
Human Rights in an expert study of 1987 involved a judge who was temporarily re-
moved from the court because he did not apply the anti-slavery laws. A third report,
dated July 5, 1983, stated that the Mauritanian Government sanctioned a judge for
not applying the emancipation declaration.
Mr. Smith. Who has standing to bring a case in the courts of
Mauritania, and what kind of resources are required to successfully
bring a case?
Mr. Twaddell. One of the most effective and active instruments
is this group El Hor, founded in 1978, by a former slave himself.
He is active not only in publicizing the issues but in bringing to
the courts and to public attention instances where such challenges
to the existing law occur.
There are also provisions in the law of Mauritania that there be
public defenders but the mechanism of the State and the resources
of the State are very limited. In fact, these non-governmental orga-
nizations are more active and effective in bringing such cases to
Mr. Smith. Let me just ask one final question.
Again, two of those who will testify, Charles Jacobs and Mr. Cot-
ton, both argue that slavery never ended in Mauritania. Specifi-
cally, Mr. Cotton talks about how it has gone underground.
Is it the State Department's testimony that that is not the case?
Are you disputing that as a fact?
Mr. Twaddell. We are saying that such cases have not credibly
been brought to our attention in recent years. We would very much
welcome specifics of such allegations that we would join in others
in investigating. Yes, indeed.
Mr. Smith. The distinguished chairwoman from Florida.
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. Thank you so much, Mr. Chairman.
Thank you for your testimony this afternoon.
To continue with the line of questioning from Chris, when the
State Department reports that the people in Mauritania are living
in a state of servitude because they do not know that slavery has
been declared illegal or they do not know that they are free to
leave, would it not be correct to say that these people then are still
Mr. Twaddell. I think, without doubt, psychologically many of
them have difficulty distinguishing between the condition that
might have legally existed before 1980, when the latest manumis-
sion was handed down.
They are, however, free to move on to another life. They are, by
the tests of the court, by the documents, the constitutional and
legal body of the country, free to move and to seek employment or
pursue their own lives.
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. But it remains a problem in Mauritania for
a person to know whether he or she is not a slave. And if the prob-
lem is a lack of communication, would it have not been appropriate
for the U.S. Government to, in its foreign aid program for the coun-
try, to have provided assistance to the Mauritanian Government or
some other agency to make sure that every slave in this country
learns of his or her emancipation? Is that something that you have
been looking at? Or with any of the human rights and democracy
funds to the anti-slavery groups that are presently working there?
Mr. Twaddell. In fact, we have urged on a number of occasions
that the government do more to publicize what is in fact its policy
and its own law. At various times, the government of Mauritania
has. Immediately after emancipation in 1980, for 2 years, the gov-
ernment of former President Haidallah conducted radio broadcasts
on a regular basis concerning the institution of the prohibition of
slavery and the manumission. This was done in the languages of
Hasaniya as well as the indigenous languages of Soninke, Wolof,
Bambara and the Halpulaar languages.
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. I am sure the transcriber is going to have
fun with that one.
Mr. Twaddell. I think it is in the statement, but
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. And for the human rights and democracy
funds and the anti-slavery groups, would that have been a better
way for us to have communicated with the individuals in Mauri-
tania? What sort of funding do we provide for them and does the
ending of slavery not warrant a substantial effort on our part to
support these anti-slavery groups that are working there under
Mr. Twaddell. We are constrained in what we have available to
work with the government of Mauritania at this point in terms of
our bilateral assistance. But we have made a small grant that has
enabled members of local Mauritanian human rignts groups to
have exchanges with Freedom House. This is the sort of interaction
that we think is very useful for both institutions, organizations,
and promotes the shared objectives.
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. I am familiar with that organization. They
do good work in many countries.
Just one last question about Mauritania before I ask a few on
Given your conclusion that, not only do the vestiges of slavery
continue to exist in this country, but also that slavery itself may
be continuing, what sort of diplomatic or other steps are we pre-
pared to take to make sure that Mauritania ends slavery? Is the
Clinton administration prepared to impose economic or political
sanctions against this country if slavery is not ended? And ended,
in fact, as well as in theory. And if not, why not?
Mr. Twaddell. Madam Chairman, there are a number of things
we are doing, that we intend to continue doing, that we would urge
the government of Mauritania to get more intensively involved in
We have talked about public education programs, and I think
that is at the heart of what needs to be done at this point.
We have talked about the need, as I mentioned to Chairman
Smith, not only to receive international human rights organizations
interested in the issue of slavery, but if they would like to have a
more permanent presence, we would certainly ask the government
of Mauritania to consider that. I think that might go a long way
to assisting them in their campaign as well as in assisting the out-
side world in its access to information on the issue.
We have encouraged the government to give official recognition
to El Hor and the other two more recent organizations, although
they seem to operate completely freely without hindrance, they do
not have registration as officially recognized non-governmental or-
ganization in Mauritania.
We have suggested as well that the government publicize the
particulars of the judicial actions that were taken in such cases as
I mentioned in those three or four cases of custody.
Other measures, and I take this largely from recommendations
of the World Bank and the U.N. Subcommission on Human Rights
that said that the long-term problem that you allude to, I think,
Madam Chairman, of the state of peoples' minds, the perception
that they may not somehow be wholly free, needs to be attacked
on fundamental societal grounds.
With regard to education, in fact the government is doing prob-
ably the extent of its limited capabilities in promoting primary and
secondary education. This obviously is fundamental to people
knowing about their rights and their situation in their country and
in the world.
The other is another very long tedious slog and that is creating
economic opportunities and a labor market that may provide viable
alternative employment for many of those who are in the servitude
and semi-servitude condition that prevails today.
Ms. Ros-LEHTINEN. Thank you.
Mr. Chairman, although I know my time is up, if I may just ask
one question on Sudan.
In your most recent Human Rights Report which we have dis-
cussed, the State Department concludes that the cases of slavery
in Sudan have increased alarmingly.
What steps is the Clinton administration prepared to take to step
up the pressure with this government, the Sudanese Government,
to take effective action to end slavery? If a country such as Sudan
engages in slavery and the slave trade, should we not be prepared
to lead the international effort to impose total political and eco-
nomic sanctions against that country, including trade embargoes,
expulsion from the United Nations and from the World Bank and
measures such as those?
Mr. Twaddell. Madam Chairman, you asked what we are pre-
pared to do. Next week, we will again take the initiative in press-
ing the U.N. Commission on Human Rights to condemn human
rights abuses in Sudan and create a greater capability to monitor
the situation of human rights and slavery in Sudan.
Currently, the Special Rapporteur is barred from being present
in Sudan. He has been prohibited entry. He has encouraged that
there be monitors set up in the three neighboring countries of
Uganda, Ethiopia, and Eritrea.
We think this would be a very useful mechanism to augment our
knowledge of what the situation is there. We feel not only by his
absence but since the 7th of February by our own absence in our
embassy in Khartoum — we are disadvantaged in being able to ef-
fectively and intensively monitor the human rights situation.
Regarding sanctions, embargoes and the IMF, Sudan is at the
end of the most recent decade of terrible civil war. Its situation of
human rights is truly appalling. The effects on the civilian popu-
lation of 27 or so million people in the last 12 years has been a mil-
lion and a half killed, three million internally displaced, and an es-
timated 600,000 in refuge outside the country. There have been nu-
merous instances of atrocious human rights behavior on the part
of the government of Sudan as well as on the part of forces oppos-
ing the government of Sudan. It is truly a horrendous situation.
I think any consideration of sweeping global actions really has to
take into account the dreadful situation and the opposing forces of
those fighting and wreaking havoc on the civilian population and
the hardships of the last 12 and, in fact, the last 40 years in that
country. It is not something that can be done uniquely by the Unit-
ed States. In fact, it is something that effectively has to be done
by all of the international community.
Lamentably, only the countries in the immediate sub-region have
taken this as a particular undertaking and campaign. But as we
have in the past, we will again next week in Geneva try to raise
Sudan's abuses in the international forum of the Human Rights
Mr. Smith. Just very briefly, if the gentlelady would yield.
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. Yes.
Mr. Smith. As you pointed out, Mr. Secretary, in your testimony,
it is, however, only the government of Sudan and their forces that
stand accused of engaging in the practice of slavery. Is that cor-
Mr. Twaddell. That is our understanding, Mr. Chairman, yes.
And I believe the U.N. Special Rapporteur has prepared a report
to that effect.
Mr. Smith. Mr. Johnston.
Mr. Johnston. Mr. Twaddell, Islam is one of the great religions
in this world. And I would like to talk a little about the religious
makeup of Mauritania first, called the Islamic Republic of Mauri-
What does the Koran say about slavery? Do you have any idea?
And are there Muslims enslaving Muslims in Mauritania?
Mr. Twaddell. Mr. Congressman, I at this point do not believe
that anyone is enslaving anyone, that the active capture of slaves,
transfer and sale of slaves is a current practice in Mauritania.
Regarding the religious composition of Mauritania, it is correct
that it is an Islamic Republic. I would estimate 99 percent of the
population espouse Islam. They brought the religion with them or
they converted hundreds of years ago.
I point out that of the four or five major identifiable ethnic
groups who claim parts of Mauritania to be their homeland, all
There are Catholic churches that operate in Mauritania. They op-
erate without hindrance. There is stern disapproval, however, if
there are attempts at proselytizing practicing Muslims. But the
practice by Christians of their religion in Mauritania is permitted.
Mr. Johnston. As contrasted with Sudan, which is — Shari'a is
the law now — is it not that they all be Muslim and they all be
Mr. Twaddell. Shari'a is the law, as I understand it, in the
northern regions of Sudan. But it is not being applied in many of
the southern regions.
Mr. Johnston. Do you equate conscription to slavery?
Mr. Twaddell. I would, if they are underaged boys, Mr. Con-
Mr. Johnston. Then your report says the SPLA purportedly held
thousands of children in camps against their will as a reservoir of
recruits. So then you have slavery in the south too.
Mr. Twaddell. I think you have me. I would consider
Mr. Johnston. It was not a trick question.
Mr. Twaddell. No, I realize. I just was not very quick on my
I would consider such recruitment a deprivation of one's freedom.
Certainly that. I come back to the definition that we were working
from earlier, however, that of chattel slavery, and that being the
position of being bought or sold.
Mr. Johnston. Let me follow up on the Chairwoman's question
about sanctions against Sudan.
We have closed our embassy there and our ambassador is now
Mr. Twaddell. That is correct.
Mr. Johnston. We have declared it a terrorist country. We have
not broken diplomatic relations.
Mr. Twaddell. That is correct.
Mr. Johnston. I am not recommending it, but is that an alter-
Mr. Twaddell. Under some circumstances it could be con-
templated. At this point, we have decided given our grave concern
that we not break relations with Sudan. We maintain relations
with Khartoum but just removed our people from their presence at
the embassy there.
Ambassador Carney is in Nairobi, as you indicated. And he is our
ambassador to Sudan. We would welcome changes on the ground
and policies by the government of Sudan that would permit the re-
turn of our embassy staff to Khartoum.
Mr. Johnston. Just following up. You know, Sudan is almost to-
tally isolated now. On its east, Eritrea, Ethiopia; in the south
Uganda, have all broken diplomatic relations with this country.
Is there a chance that with the help of the presence of these
three countries that the OAU could work through the United Na-
tions to have some type of an embargo, particularly through Port
Sudan and the Red Sea?
Mr. Twaddell. As you know, Mr. Congressman, 6 weeks ago the
United Nations passed a resolution requested by the governments
of Ethiopia and Egypt in their complaint of the attack against
President Mubarak in Addis Ababa last summer.
The government of Sudan has approximately two more weeks to
show that they are responding to the instruction of that resolution
of the United Nations. After that the governments that brought the
complaint, their sponsoring organization, the Organization of Afri-
can Unity; and the Security Council of the United Nations, may
again take up the issue of non-compliance and appropriate meas-
ures to be taken against the government of Sudan.
Mr. Johnston. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Smith. Thank you.
The chair recognizes Mr. Bereuter.
Mr. Bereuter. I thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, for your
courtesy and that of my colleagues, since I am not a member of the
subcommittee and need to get on to other committee business in-
I want to express my appreciation to the two chairmen for their
holding this hearing today on such an important and often over-
looked issue. Your hearing addresses a gross injustice concerning
the most fundamental of human rights of perhaps thousands of
Sudan and Mauritania's underclass.
It is hard to believe that chattel slavery continues to exist in
1996. Yet in this region of the world, some humans still clearly are
considered property of masters and expected to perform unpaid
Mr. Chairman, I believe that the perpetuation of this phenome-
non has been downplayed and neglected by both the U.S. State De-
partment and the governments involved.
I hope your two subcommittees will light a fire beneath the State
Department and these two countries and report my resolution to
the House for favorable action.
Why is this appropriate? We constantly hear the euphemism that
only vestiges of slavery remain in these countries. To me that
phrase has no meaning. Either slaves, regardless of their number,
remain in these countries or they do not. We will no doubt also
hear today that slaves choose to stay with their masters out of eco-
nomic necessity. Are we expected to lend a sympathetic ear to such
excuses? To do so would make a mockery of the principles of equal-
ity that our nation has for so long struggled to achieve.
If I am outraged about this issue, I think outrage is appropriate.
The dearth of firsthand accounts of slavery has frequently been
cited as evidence that this institution has all but disappeared. Do
we really expect slaves to come knocking at the door of the U.S.
Embassy to report their situations? Furthermore, have we histori-
cally interpreted the paucity of firsthand accounts from political
prisoners interned by repressive regimes around the world to mean
that political prisoners do not exist, either? Certainly not. Numer-
ous stories of slavery continue to filter through to Amnesty Inter-
national and other human rights organizations.
Other independent investigators, such as Sam Cotton, from
whom we will hear later today, have labored hard to break the con-
spiracy of silence surrounding this shameful practice.
Mr. Chairman, I introduced a bill last month, H. Con. Res. 142,
regarding the human rights situation in Mauritania, including the
continued practice of chattel slavery. My hope is to spur both Mau-
ritania and, with your help, Sudan, to stamp out this heinous prac-
tice once and for all and to conduct vigorous prosecution of viola-
tors of existing anti-slavery laws.
I also urge the State Department to be much more vigorous in
pursuing reports of slavery in those countries and to regularly initi-
ate contact with independent observers of the human rights situa-
Again, Mr. Chairman, I commend both of the chairpersons in-
volved for conducting the hearing and I thank your witnesses for
their willingness to testify.
As I said, I need to return to other committee activities, but I
know that you are going to properly pursue this very serious mat-
And, Mr. Chairman and Madam Chairman, I thank you and I
thank the gentleman from North Carolina for giving me a chance
to make this statement before I have to proceed.
Mr. Smith. Thank you, Mr. Bereuter, for your fine statement.
And I would like to recognize Mr. Frazer.
Mr. Frazer. Mr. Twaddell, when you testified that slavery has
either been abolished or there may be vestiges of slavery, could you
tell us how and when were they emancipated? Was there some
public pronouncement in the international press? And were there
international observers? And where did they go and how were the
former slave masters compensated?
Mr. Twaddell. Mr. Congressman, there are probably three spe-
cific references to the ending of the institution of slavery in Mauri-
tania in recent years. One is their own constitution at the time of
independence from France in 1960. The next year Mauritania ad-
hered to the U.N. Convention concerning slavery and human
The most recent public statement was the July 5, 1980, procla-
mation of manumission by President Haidallah in Nouakchott,
Mr. Frazer. Mr. Twaddell, segregation has been ended in the
United States many years ago by proclamation, but there are still
vestiges of it.
Are you prepared to represent as a representative of the State
Department that slavery no longer exists in Mauritania and simply
because there were some high-sounding proclamations that there is
no one being held in slavery in that country?
Mr. Twaddell. I am prepared to cite, Mr. Congressman, as I did
a few minutes ago, the language of our Human Rights Report that
was issued to the Congress last week in which we talk about the
continuation of instances, in the tens of thousands, of servitude and
However, we make the additional point that we have not seen
evidence of the buying or selling of human beings and the practice
of chattel slavery in Mauritania in 1995 or indeed in recent years.
Mr. Frazer. But are you not in fact double speaking if you say
that there are vestiges of slavery but we have not seen evidence
of the exchange of people for money or their being treated, as we
are calling them here, as chattel?
The question I have to ask is whether the State Department is
making a statement that slavery does not exist in Mauritania?
Mr. Twaddell. When I say "vestiges of slavery," Congressman,
I am talking about servitude and semi-servitude. I do not think
that is slavery itself. I think that is a vestige of slavery. It is noth-
Mr. Frazer. Are we playing with words?
Mr. Twaddell (continuing), not sold.
Mr. Frazer. Is this not just a fancy way of saying that the State
Department will not go out and say there is no slavery in Mauri-
tania but perhaps there are people who work and do not get paid
against their will?
Mr. Twaddell. I think that there are people who work and do
not get paid. I think there are people who work for well under the
government's indicated minimum wage. I call that servitude. I do
not call that buying and selling human beings.
Mr. Frazer. Just one last question.
Mr. Twaddell. As the Chairman mentioned in his opening state-
ment, there is a distinction between servitude and contract labor
and chattel slavery.
Mr. Frazer. Just one last question.
Have you been to Mauritania?
Mr. Twaddell. I spent 3 years there, 1988 to 1991, as Chief of
Mr. FRAZER. And based on the time you spent there, can you say
today that slavery does not exist in Mauritania today? Forget about
all you have read, what you have told me has been written. Does
slavery exist in Mauritania?
Mr. Twaddell. I would feel very uncomfortable saying, as a cer-
tainty, that slavery does not exist. It is a vast country. There are
parts of it that, until the droughts of the mid seventies and
eighties, were totally out of the reach of the capital. I think it is
very conceivable that the practice of slavery continues in very re-
mote parts of that vast desert country.
Mr. Frazer. Is the United States doing anything to encourage
that country to abolish slavery?
Mr. Twaddell. Yes, we are, sir.
Mr. Frazer. Thank you.
Mr. Smith. The chair recognizes Mr. Funderburk.
Mr. Funderburk. Mr. Secretary, regarding your comment on un-
derground slavery in Mauritania, is it not a severe indictment on
the U.S. State Department and Foreign Service when officers can
be working for years in a place and not come up with credible first-
hand evidence or documentation of the evils going on all around
I witnessed this type of blindness to reality when a dictator in
Bucharest was killing people and destroying a society and it was
all conveniently overlooked. If the United States was really inter-
ested and really tried, do you not think it could get the evidence
or would already have had the evidence?
Mr. Twaddell. I will repeat that we would be delighted to have
a good lead, Mr. Congressman, and we will pursue it with whom-
Mr. Funderburk. What are the Foreign Service officers doing
Mr. Twaddell. They are reporting on the situation they find on
the ground, sir.
Mr. Funderburk. They must be blind.
Mr. Smith. Thank you, Mr. Funderburk.
Mr. Payne. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Let me first of all commend you for both committees calling this
very important hearing on the question of slavery in Mauritania
and in Sudan.
I hope this hearing will be helpful in preventing further suffering
which has already reached massive proportions. This is at least the
fifth hearing that I have been on dealing with Sudan since I en-
tered Congress. I had an opportunity to speak to Columbia Univer-
sity in May of last year on this issue of slavery. And on February
24, 1995, I convened a meeting in my Washington office to meet
with legislators, with the President of the Mauritania Senate, Mr.
Farber, who was accompanied by Mauritania's ambassador, Ismail
The purpose of the meeting was to discuss our mutual concern
regarding the continued existence of slavery in Mauritania. Mr.
Farber remembers my work in the human rights violations and
dealing with this whole question of slavery. He mentioned that I
was not very popular in Mauritania. Thank goodness I do not have
to run there. I informed him that I understand that slavery is
against the law in Mauritania. They made that clear. But until the
practice of slavery is stamped out, the Black Caucus and other
Members of this Congress will speak out against slavery. We can-
not continue to condone slavery. It is time that the government
really becomes involved in attempting to eliminate it.
I just looked over some of my records and I had a floor statement
on H. Con. Res. 176, and this was a resolution expressing the sense
of Congress regarding human rights violation in Mauritania. And
that was on July 29, 1991. And we talked about the problems then
in 1991. And here it is in 1996, and we are still dealing with the
question of whether it is overt or covert, whether it is State spon-
sored or not State sponsored, whether there are slaves or there are
not. The fact that it is traditional rather than by law. And I think
that unless the U.S. representative there is serious about trying to
eliminate or push the government — and my purpose for meeting
with the president of the legislature was to try to appeal to them
that why does not the government take a more forceful stand?
They say, well, you know, historically people state, well, after the
Emancipation Proclamation, slaves stayed with the slave owner
too, because they were not encouraged to leave. They were not as-
sisted to leave. There was no place to go.
But once the Freedman's Bureau, back in 1865, was established,
then people did go because the government became a part of the
government policy to see that the vestiges of slavery would be
ended. You are not going to end the practice if the government of
Mauritania is looking the other way; if they are allowing the so-
called practices as practices. It is not legal. It is like cases of laws
in Supreme Courts because you can have de facto segregation or
de jure, and they are both the same result and are treated the
same, whether it is de facto or de jure.
You still had de jure slavery in Mauritania. And until there is
a realization and our government takes a strong stand against it,
sure, conditions have improved in Mauritania. You know, back
many years ago, in 1991, there were 200 political detainees who
died in detention. Others died of starvation in detention, of illness
in detention. Back in 1991, there were 500 prisoners who died —
also died at another time in detention.
You go back a few years earlier, they estimated in 1981 there
were 100,000 slaves that could be identified in Mauritania.
So, yes, there has been some improvement, but there is not de-
termination to end the vestiges of slavery, and I think that until
that happens that our government should be forceful there and in
Sudan in ending these vestiges. It makes no sense as we move into
the 21st century that we are still talking about we are going to try
to do it or it is not as bad as we think it is, or something we are
going to work on, or they are trying to do a better job. That is what
we continually hear. And we will continue to press this issue and
to push for sanctions and other kinds of issues until the govern-
ments come around and say that we will try to really get involved
in ending this.
We had a hearing at the Congressional Black Caucus last year
at our legislative conference on the question of slavery in Mauri-
tania and in Sudan, and there is a tremendous growing interest in
this country, and I am going to remain vigilant on this issue until
we see it ended.
I have no further questions at this time.
Mr. Smith. I want to thank the gentleman from New Jersey for
his tenacity in keeping this issue before the subcommittees, before
the Congress and the American people.
And I would like to ask Eni Faleomavaega if he would take the
chair. All of us have a vote. We have about 5 minutes and then we
will continue the hearing.
We will continue while Mr. Faleomavaega takes the chair. Please
Ms. McKlNNEY. Eni, as you proceed to the chair, I am going to
have to run and vote as well. But I had three questions that I par-
ticularly wanted to ask, and I do not know that I will be able to
stay here and hear the responses.
I would like to present them to Mr. Twaddell for a response at
a later time, but I do want you to know publicly what those ques-
You answered yes to Congressman Frazer's question about the
United States encouraging the government of Mauritania to elimi-
nate the vestiges of slavery.
I would like to know exactly what it is that the United States
is actually doing.
The second question I have is what is the role of color in deter-
mining who is enslaved?
And the third question that I have is does the government of
Mauritania, Congressman Payne mentioned the Freedman's Bu-
reau, does the government of Mauritania have the kinds of institu-
tions established as the United States did in the post-Civil War era
that were established so that those who had been slaves could find
their way out of slavery and into some kind of mainstream living?
So those are my three questions that I would like to have Mr.
Twaddell respond to me in writing please.
Mr. Twaddell. Well, I could attempt to do that very quickly be-
fore you go to your vote.
Mr. Faleomavaega (Presiding). I think it might be better, Mr.
Secretary, that the gentlelady from Georgia will submit it in writ-
ing in a little more comprehensive way.
Mr. Twaddell. That is fine.
Mr. Faleomavaega. And then that way you could respond a lit-
tle better, if that is all right.
Ms. McKlNNEY. Thank you.
(The information appears in the appendix.)
Mr. Faleomavaega. Mr. Secretary, I am sorry I came a little
late, but I did receive the gist of your testimony, a very comprehen-
sive one at that.
You indicated earlier that you spent 3 years in Mauritania. What
years were those?
Mr. Twaddell. I arrived in September 1988 and left in August
Mr. Faleomavaega. So you pretty much are quite familiar with
the landscape and the scope of
Mr. Twaddell. Yes. It has been 5V2 years since I left, but I knew
it pretty well when I was there.
Mr. Faleomavaega. You indicated earlier that by description,
and, of course, I do not want to get into semantics either, but I
guess because of international standards, we have what is called
a chattel slavery, and then you have servitude, and then you have
Is this how they divide the forms of slavery that we currently
have in the world today, or is it just a definite distinction of these
three different formats/
Mr. TWADDELL. I think there is a definite distinction without try-
ing to split hairs or become overly semantical.
Mr. Faleomavaega. Let me ask you this.
Among the three classifications, as I had indicated earlier, which
one was practiced by the United States before the Civil War, if I
might add, among the three
Mr. Twaddell. As I understand it, in parts of this country slav-
ery was practiced up until the Civil War.
Mr. Faleomavaega. Yes. Was that chattel slavery?
Mr. Twaddell. That was chattel slavery, as I understand it.
Mr. Faleomavaega. OK And that is the worst form?
Mr. Twaddell. That is the buying and selling of human beings.
Mr. Faleomavaega. OK. Go ahead. I am sorry. I did not mean
to disrupt your
Mr. Twaddell. No. But I do think that there is a distinction be-
tween slavery, as it is commonly defined in the dictionary, and ser-
vitude, that may have elements of either psychological or economic
compulsion, but does not have behind it the force of law.
Congressman Payne talked about slavery continuing de jure.
Clearly I would have to contradict him. It has been written out of
the Constitution and in the 1980 Emancipation Declaration. De
facto, servitude? Yes. It certainly is a phenomenon. Is it a dreadful
thing? Yes, it is. Is it something that we should encourage to have
ended as rapidly as possible? It certainly is. Are there practical
mechanisms to achieve that? I think there are things that we can
urge the government of Mauritania to do with greater vigor. And
some of those we may be able to assist.
I would like to see the practice of servitude and semi-servitude
end as well.
Mr. Faleomavaega. And I might add that on these two classi-
fications of servitude and contract labor, certain African countries
do not have this problem. I mean they are not the only ones that
have this problem. This is a worldwide problem.
Am I correct in making that statement?
Mr. Twaddell. I think it occurs in many places.
Mr. Faleomavaega. But really the essence of the concern, and
I am sure that the members of the committee have, and certainly
this member, is in reference to chattel slavery. This is really where
the concern seems to be quite paramount, and I wanted to ask you
if you could elaborate a little further on your experience in being
there previously for 3 years in Mauritania, what your experience
was. I mean did you physically see this, or was this by manner of
reports from the countryside, or was it by rumors, or — I am not
quite clear on that.
Mr. Twaddell. In my time in Mauritania, and since, I was not
aware of any instance of buying or selling of human beings. There
were instances, as cited in the testimony, in which competing
claims for human beings by former masters against former slave
parents, usually for children, were brought to the courts. This is
clearly evidence of the transfer or the possession of one human
being by another.
By law, it could not happen. However, the cases were brought to
the courts for the disposition of the courts. So clearly in people's
minds and in the practice in some instances, the phenomenon of
slavery is still perceived to exist. Certainly in the minds of the par-
ents who went to the court to claim their children, the perception
of slavery was the case in point.
Mr. Faleomavaega. Does this seem to be the perception? And
maybe if you could elaborate for the record. You have indicated
that the State Department did submit the 1995 Report on Human
Rights, in essence on Mauritania alone, on the issue of slavery.
Could you elaborate a little further on that? Was it specifically in
your description or the State Department's position, where does it
fall among the three categories that you have indicated earlier?
Mr. Twaddell. I could read three sentences from that report
that would encapsulate it.
'The legacy of slavery remains in its economic and psychological
manifestations, and there are reports of persons continuing to live
in conditions of involuntary servitude. Tens of thousands of persons
whose ancestors were slaves still occupy positions of servitude and
near servitude although such practices as coercive slavery and com-
merce in slaves appear to have virtually disappeared."
Mr. Faleomavaega. I gather that the government of Mauritania
absolutely denies any such claims that there is chattel slavery
going on in Mauritania. Does this seem to be your impression by
way of information given to our State Department?
Mr. Twaddell. I would let them speak for themselves, but I
would point out that there are these instances over the last 5 or
6 years in which the government of Mauritania publicly challenged
the decisions of certain iudges that seems to contradict the reading
of the Constitution ana the Emancipation Proclamation. In that
sense, they certainly would have to acknowledge that there were
challenges to this law.
Mr. Faleomavaega. You indicated earlier also in your statement
that the government of Mauritania — is it quite free to allow NGO's
like Amnesty International, the International Commission of Ju-
rists, the Human Rights Group on Imberg, Scotland? The govern-
ment has been pretty free to allow these different organizations to
come in and investigate or research or study or whatever the situa-
tion is with that?
Mr. Twaddell. I am a little reluctant to characterize it. I do
know that there have been 13 governmental and international non-
government organizations that have been allowed to go to Mauri-
tania to conduct discussions and investigate the subject of slavery.
I do not know if I would characterize that as completely open, com-
One of your colleagues suggested that it might be more effective
to have a permanent presence on the ground of an international or-
ganization. There are now three Mauritanian domestic non-govern-
mental organizations that concern themselves with slavery's
Mr. Faleomavaega. I think the concern that we have here, Mr.
Secretary, and I never questioned in my mind about your sensitiv-
ity to this very important issue. It is ironic that we are at the eve
of the 21st century and we are still talking about slavery.
And I think this is where the sensitivity arises with tne members
here on the committee and seeing that certainly our country should
absolutely be at the forefront in seeing absolutely that this form
of — you might say inhumanity — be stricken forevermore from this
planet. And I think you can recognize the sensitivity of why the
members are so uptight about this and hopefully that our friends
from Mauritania as well as Sudan will have their opportunity to
make their statements.
And I really appreciate your coming forth and representing the
Administration in this important issue.
I am going to turn the time over now to the co-chair of our joint
hearing this afternoon, the gentlelady from Florida.
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen (Presiding). Thank you so much. I thank you
for chairing the subcommittee in our absence.
We thank the Secretary for his testimony here today and for the
members who were not able to participate due to other pressing
congressional obligations, we will forward those questions to you.
We thank you so much for being with us today.
Mr. Twaddell. Thank you very much, Madam Chairman.
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. Now I would like to call our second set of
panelists, Mr. Samuel Cotton, Executive Director of the Coalition
Against Slavery in Mauritania and Sudan. Charles Jacobs, Re-
search Director of the American Anti-Slavery Group. Mr. Mohamed
Nacir Athie, Executive Director of the International Coalition
Against Chattel Slavery. And Mervyn Dymally, a retired Member
Please join us. As you are seated, I would like to read a short
introduction for each.
Mr. Cotton is the executive director and a founding member of
CASMAS, the Coalition Against Slavery in Mauritania and Sudan.
He has traveled across the United States speaking in public forums
and at churches and universities about human rights and recently
completed 28 days of ethnographic research in Mauritania and
Senegal. Mr. Cotton earned his B.A. in sociology from Lehman Col-
lege and is currently a doctoral candidate in social policy at Colum-
Mr. Jacobs is a co-founder and current research director of the
American Anti-Slavery Group, an organization whose intent is to
place the issue of slave trade in Africa on the American agenda. He
has published numerous articles on the subject and was featured
in a PBS series exposing slavery in Sudan and Mauritania. He or-
ganized the first anti-abolition sit-in conference in over 130 years
last May at Columbia University. He has been blessed for his work
by the Black Catholic Bishops of Sudan, and cursed for it by fol-
lowers of the Nation of Islam.
Mr. Athie is a Mauritanian diplomat in exile and co-founder of
the American Anti-Slavery Group. Before coming to the United
States, Mr. Athie held the important position of Chief District
Commissioner in South Mauritania and Chief of Staff for the Gov-
ernor in East Mauritania. In the United States, he has created the
Committee for the Defense of Human Rights in Mauritania and
now serves as the chairman of the International Coalition.
Congressman Dymally is a former Congressman, a former col-
league, and Lieutenant Governor of California, and served as the
chairman of the Subcommittee on Africa from 1991 to 1992. He is
a member of the U.S. Mauritania Friendship Society and has been
an advocate of Mauritania for the past several years. Mr. Dymally
has made approximately 25 trips to Mauritania and has published
four reports on the issue of slavery there — the latest of which he
will present to the committee today.
We welcome all of you, and if we may begin with Mr. Cotton.
Mr. Faleomavaega. Will the Chairlady yield?
Ms. Ros-Lehtenen. Yes. I am sorry. Yes.
Mr. Faleomavaega. I am not taking anything away from the
other members of the panel, but I certainly would like to offer my
personal welcome to not only as a former distinguished member of
this committee, but a subcommittee chairman of the African Sub-
committee. Also former subcommittee chairman of the Inter-
national Relations Subcommittee, of this committee, and the gen-
tleman from California, Mr. Dymally, whom I have the highest ad-
miration and respect for. And would like to offer that personal wel-
come and make him feel at home. He has been here in these parts
for quite a while and seeing that he has not gotten any white hair,
not as much as what he had 20 years ago, but still looks nice and
handsome, but certainly would like to offer my welcome to Mr.
Dymally for being here.
Mr. Dymally. Thank you, my friend.
Ms. Ros-LEHTINEN. Thank you so much.
Welcome to all the panelists.
STATEMENT OF SAMUEL COTTON, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR,
COALITION AGAINST SLAVERY IN MAURITANIA AND SUDAN
Mr. Cotton. Thank you, Madam Chairperson, and the members
of the subcommittee.
I am Samuel Cotton, a Ph.D. candidate in social policy at Colum-
bia University, and I will be reading this statement in a summary
fashion, only certain paragraphs to fit the 5-minute requirement.
I am the executive director of the Coalition Against Slavery in
Mauritania and Sudan. CASMAS and I are grateful for this oppor-
tunity to testify before the subcommittee about the buying, selling
and breeding of black Africans in the Islamic Republic of Mauri-
tania by Arab Moors, Beydanes.
Between December 23, 1995, and January 17, 1996, I conducted
ethnographic research in Senegal and Mauritania on the practice
of slavery, utilizing camera, audio and video recording devices.
Interview of black Mauritanians in the refugee camps of
N'Dioum, Boki-Diawe, Wourossogui and Horkadiere provided testi-
mony which supported the charge that slavery is still a way of life
in Mauritania and has simply shifted from an overt to a covert
I also interviewed Mauritanian refugees in- Dakar, and I was in-
terested in examining and finding out if Garba Diallo's work —
where he talked about slaves moving from Mauritania across the
Senegal River into Senegal — was valid. I researched that subject
and have documents to prove that small traffic exists.
I arrived in Mauritania on January 2, 1996, and departed Janu-
ary 12, 1996. I conducted interviews with the leaders of two anti-
slavery organizations, Messaoud Ould Boulkheir, president of El
Hor, and Boubacar Messaoud, president of S.O.S. Slave. Both lead-
ers stated that slaves are kept in bondage by a combination of
physical restraint, psychological domination, religious manipula-
tion, and the lack of government interest in creating programs that
would enable slaves to make the transition to freedom. Boubacar
Messaoud added that slavery is massive in Mauritania, especially
in the countryside and that there is a traffic in slaves between
Mauritania and the Arab Emirate States.
To protest the practice of slavery, they have begun to put their
articles in the newspapers. That has been mentioned in the testi-
mony. And they have done that to move from a political base, to
what they consider a legal base, to let the world know that these
things are happening.
Haratines and runaway slaves state that the government of
Mauritania does not penalize slave owners nor has it created any
concrete programs to end the practice of slavery.
I have included in my testimony the case of Fatimetou Mint Rabi
Ould Ely, a child who was taken from her family by a government
official and disappeared into the slave network in Mauritania. This
was also published in the newspaper called Le Calame No. 99 — 9
And for the reason there are not concrete programs or any laws
with teeth in them, the Arab population carries on the business of
slavery as they have for centuries. The difference is that today the
buying and selling of slaves takes place in the houses of Moors and
are private arrangements between Arab families. Open slave mar-
kets are clearly a thing of the past. Marriages are arranged and
a strong black male is placed with a strong black female, and the
Arab families arranging this marriage divide up the children that
are born. Black women are bred many times by different slave men
and their children become the property of the master.
When asked in an interview why her master holds her children,
the slave woman, Aichanna Mint Abeid Boili stated, and her pic-
ture is right there. She was photographed in a safe house at night
where she was hiding from people who had been sent by her mas-
ter to retrieve her. When I asked her why her master was holding
her children, she said, "Because my belly belongs to my master. '
I also interviewed four runaway slaves and one freed slave, one
male and four female. Their testimony was recorded.
It is important to me that the U.S. State Department listen to
the people in bondage and not the oppressive government of Mauri-
tania. The shift in the language of the State Department from stat-
ing that slavery exists to stating that slavery is over and only the
vestiges of slavery remains is disturbing.
Then there are the attacks in the press on the Mauritania refu-
gee, Mohamed Athie, by the U.S. Ambassador Dorothy Sampas in
an effort to improve the image of the Mauritanian Government, a
government practicing a system of apartheid, guilty as recently as
1991 of the murder of 1500 of its black citizens, and the ethnic
cleansing of approximately 100,000 peaceful black citizens. These
actions raise both ethical and moral questions for the United
If slavery is over in Mauritania, when did this great event occur?
Who observed the freeing of over 90,000 people? How and with
what methods were the slaves informed that they are physically
and spiritually free? Where are the interviews that indicate slaves
are remaining in bondage only for economical reasons? What provi-
sions for their physical needs were made, food, clothing and shel-
ter? How were they protected from their masters recapturing them
and returning them to slavery? What governmental or inter-
national organization monitored and evaluated the success of what
would have to be a stupendous undertaking?
Why did not the Mauritanian Government allow the political
parties of the Negro Africans and the anti-slavery organizations of
the Haratines to monitor this major event since slavery is at the
top of their agenda?
There are no valid answers to these questions because no empiri-
cal data nor any studies conducted by experienced investigators,
such as the London-based Anti-Slavery Society, exists which sup-
port the statements of the State Department or Ambassador Doro-
The United States was once a slaving nation and participated in
the emancipation of millions of Africans. America has historical ex-
perience in this area and clearly recognized the need for concrete
measures when it created the Freedman's Bureau of 1865 after it
argued for 2 years as to whether or not such an arrangement was
Does the State Department really believe that a system of slav-
ery that began before the American slave trade and has continued
to this very day will not require concrete and measurable interven-
The last paragraph simply speaks to the fact that I hope that
this change or shift in the Clinton administration's perspective on
this country does not continue.
(The prepared statement of Mr. Cotton appears in the appendix.)
Ms. Ros-Lehtenen. Thank you very much.
STATEMENT OF CHARLES JACOBS, RESEARCH DIRECTOR,
AMERICAN ANTI-SLAVERY GROUP
Mr. Jacobs. Yes, Madam Chairwoman, thank you. It is an honor
to appear before you today on behalf of a people most Americans
had thought long ago vanished, black chattel slaves.
I am Charles Jacobs, the research director of the American Anti-
Slavery Group, an organization of American and African abolition-
ists, black and white, Christian, Muslim and Jewish, who for 3
years have endeavored to place the issue of present-day black slave
trade on America's international agenda.
America is a nation which risked its very existence over the issue
of one man owning another, yet as we sit here today in the capital
of freedom, black people in Africa, north and west, are being kid-
napped and captured. They are bought and sold. They are given as
wedding gifts. They are inherited. They are tortured.
And as the picture submitted in my testimony shows, they are
branded. Indeed they are bred: the children of raped slaves belong
to the master.
I would ask the committee to look at this picture. We have a
larger one here, taken by a Newsweek photographer in 1992. The
girl in the picture must be 11 or 12 years old. She belongs to these
men. She serves these men. She is a Mauritanian black Muslim.
They are Arab-Berbers. She will be theirs in every sense of the
word. Her children will be their children.
Yet there has been to date no direct action on the part of our
government to come to these people's aid. Even though we have
acted in the past in other cases of slavery. For example, the sugar
in your coffee this morning might come from Haitian slaves who
are at gun point forced to cut cane in the Dominican Republic.
Knowing our history, President George Bush actually came to the
aid of these Haitians. However, the problem continues.
In the Clinton Crime Bill, we made it a crime for U.S. citizens
to travel to foreign soil to pay to have sex with little children who
are bought and sold and made into sex slaves. Finally just last
year, it was discovered that in El Monte, California, Thai nationals
had been lured into this country with the false promise of good-
paying jobs and were discovered in fortresses surrounded by barbed
wire, not permitted to leave, forced to make clothes for little or no
money until they could pay back their masters for their purchase.
Secretary of Labor Robert Reich moved immediately to free those
slaves and to punish their slave masters.
Why then has the United States not acted on behalf of the slaves
in Mauritania and Sudan?
I am by profession a management consultant. I had been in my
earlier days an activist in the civil rights movement. I was at Mar-
tin Luther King's march. When I met Mohamed Athie and other
African exiles, I thought it would be simple to write this up. Every-
body knows that it is there. I made 50 phone calls to the most pres-
tigious human rights organizations, organizations whose reports
have prompted this Congress to act before; Amnesty International,
the Anti-Slavery International, Puebla Institute, Human Rights
Watch Africa, the U.S. State Department, the United Nations — all
know this. I thought the task would be to simply reconvene the
Anti-Apartheid Coalition, tell them the story, and they would reac-
tivate, because after all, slavery in North Africa is certainly no less
horrendous than apartheid in South Africa.
To that end, we wrote and published articles in over 200 black
papers in the country. We sent document packages, including pho-
tographs of slaves, to many human rights organizations, black or-
ganizations, women's groups.
I must say, just on a personal note, when you read these reports
that are sitting silently in the back of every human rights groups'
files, you will be very upset. For example, in Mauritania, I am in
public dispute on the pages of the New York Times with the am-
bassador to Mauritania, Dorothy Sampas, who stated that slavery
is virtually ended.
I echo Sam Cotton's question, if it ended, then it must have been
the most massive emancipation since the exodus from Egypt. Did
the waters part? The sound of the chains dropping would have
been immense. This just simply did not happen.
In Mauritania, if a slave is — in our own historical language we
would have said "uppity," — he can be tortured in a variety of ways
that are astounding. And it is difficult to talk about the humilia-
tions of other people, but we have decided to bring this up.
There is the camel treatment, by which a camel is deprived of
water for several days so that his stomach shrinks. The offending
slave is tied to the underbelly of the camel. The camel is then
taken to drink. His rapidly expanding stomach pulls the slave
There is the insect treatment, whereby an offending slave has
desert insects stuffed into his ears, capped off with stones and
bound. This drives people mad.
I would refer to the picture of Alang Ajak in my package. In
Sudan, as you know the war is raging. Arab militias armed by the
government of Khartoum raid African villages. They shoot the men,
they capture the women and children. These are kept or sold north.
The State Department today said that they would bring this to
light. They do not bring it to light.
A declassified State Department document, urged to be declas-
sified by Congressman Wolf, says that many of the slaves are
trucked to Qadhafi's Libya.
To conclude, we know that this happens. We have to move the
debate beyond whether or not slavery exists. This country cannot
turn away. We would be shamed were we to turn away. We must
(The prepared statement of Dr. Jacobs appears in the appendix.)
Mr. Smith. Thank you, Dr. Jacobs, for your fine testimony.
I would like to invite Mr. Mohamed Nacir Athie, if he would
present his testimony at this point.
STATEMENT OF MOHAMED NACIR ATHIE, EXECUTIVE DIREC-
TOR, INTERNATIONAL COALITION AGAINST CHATTEL SLAV-
Mr. ATHIE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I would like to dedicate my testimony to my brothers in bondage
in Mauritania and to the blacks that have been suffering for a long
time under the dictatorship government of Maaouya Ould
My name is Mohamed Nacir Athie. I am a Mauritanian diplomat
in exile here in the United States. I am also the executive director
of International Coalition Against Chattel Slavery.
My personal nightmare and that of my family are simply insig-
nificant compared to the daily harassment and abuses hundreds of
thousands of human beings are experiencing day in and day out.
But first I would like to say this. God bless the Congress of the
United States for calling and holding this critical hearing on slav-
ery in Mauritania and Sudan. By doing so, you are demonstrating
an active interest on the slavery matter. Also you are showing sup-
port for the slaves around the world and in particular for the
slaves in Mauritania and Sudan.
Second, I am also proud as a Mauritanian Halpular, who first
benefited of the political asylum status in 1989 in this country, to
take a stand before the Congress of the United States and testify
on behalf of our brothers who are still in chains in Mauritania by
the Arab-Berber masters.
There is more. Maaouya Ould Sid'Ahmed Taya, after seizing
power through a military plot, in appointing himself chairman of
the military junta, Prime Minister, Defense Minister, has presided
over the most systematic violations of human rights and civil rights
against the black population living in the south, targeting particu-
larly the Halpular community to which I belong.
The violence of killing, rape, tortures of Halpular reached un-
precedented height and created a crisis between Senegal and Mau-
I would like to say now who are the slaves in Mauritania? The
Mauritanian slaves are the product of invasion, raids, and rape of
African women. They are called Abd. Anti-Slavery Society, the old-
est human rights organization based in London, calculated that, I
quote, "The country holds a minimum of 100,000 slaves with a fur-
ther 300,000 part-time slaves or ex-slaves." This is written in 1982
by John Mercer.
No matter how Arab-Berbers came into contact with black
Mauritanians living in the south, a long time ago events and his-
torical records have demonstrated that most of them were after the
hunting of the slaves.
Mr. Chazal, French colonial governor, regulated taxes on slaves.
He made that agreement with Arab-Berbers in 1932. The Arab-
Berbers were required to pay for one slave five goats, which shows
the taxation on such animal was two francs and 50 cents each,
which means that an Arab master could pay 12 francs 50 cents to
be free, to just not go to war or something like that.
In reports from Africa, G. Diallo said, "Because of the massive
sexual exploitation of female slaves by white Arab-Berber masters,
the slave population or Haratines and Abd has increased to become
the largest single ethnic group in the country." Professor Diallo
said also that 40 percent of the population is slave.
Slavery today. In his introductory remarks to the Anti-Slavery
Society, John Mercer wrote in 1982, and I quote, 'The head of state
from 1960 to 1978, Moctar Ould Daddah, who was the first presi-
dent of Mauritania, kept slaves behind his Presidential palace.
Mohamed Isa Al Qadeeri, a Kuwaiti journalist, wrote in the Ku-
waiti newspaper, Al Wattan, April 1989, page 4, "At the end of my
last visit to Mauritania, among the gifts given to me which I
strongly refused by my Arab friends was a black slave."
In his report titled "Mauritania Slavery Alive and Well," 10 years
after the last abolition, Africa Watch wrote, and I quote again,
"Abolishing slavery which is deeply rooted in Mauritania is difficult
and a long-term problem. Our criticism is not that the Mauritanian
Government has tried to eradicate slavery but failed. It did not try
at all," says Africa Watch. "We are not aware of any significant
practical step taken by successive government to fulfill the impor-
tant responsibilities Mauritania undertook when it passed laws
and ratified international agreements prohibiting slavery. Its per-
sistence is largely explained by the fact that legislative enactments
have not been accompanied by initiatives in the economic and so-
cial fields." This is 1990.
And it says the same thing again in 1994 in their book, which
is called "Campaign of Terror. ' This is the book, "Campaign of Ter-
ror in Mauritania," 1994.
I thank you, Mr. Chairman.
(The prepared statement of Mr. Athie appears in the appendix.)
Mr. Smith. I thank you for your excellent testimony. Your full
statement will be made a part of the record.
STATEMENT OF MERVYN M. DYMALLY, MEMBER OF
Mr. Dymally. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee,
thank you very much. Let me thank you for giving me this oppor-
tunity to address you on this subject.
My name is Mervyn Dymally, a former Member of Congress and
a former chairman of the Subcommittee on Africa. I am a legisla-
tive advocate for the Islamic Republic of Mauritania.
Before I do, Mr. Chairman, let me digress for a moment. I want
to make a comment about Ambassador Sampas, U.S. Ambassador
to Mauritania. As my friend, Mr. Faleomavaega, said, I chaired the
Subcommittee on International Relations. I had the dubious dis-
tinction of being one of the most prolific travelers in Congress, sec-
ond only to Mr. Solarz. In fact, I beat him one year. I visited 41
countries in Africa. I served as congressional representative to the
United Nations, where I met Ms. Sampas.
I know of no other ambassador who is as dedicated and commit-
ted to their job as Ambassador Sampas, a woman of great integrity,
a public servant, who is dedicated to the question of reconciliation
and diplomacy; and I want to say that she is one of the finest am-
bassadors, if not the finest, that I have met in the 12 years that
I visited every corner of the world and slept in many embassies
and had many a meals with ambassadors. She is an outstanding
public servant and in my judgment she is doing a very good job.
The Mauritania Government is pleased to have this opportunity
to address this question of the vestiges of slavery in the Republic
of Mauritania. Let me say at the outset that no one in Mauritania
denies the fact that at one time slavery existed. Ever since inde-
pendence Mauritania has moved toward the abolishment of chattel
slavery as it was known prior to independence. On several occa-
sions, there have been Presidential orders, amendments to the Con-
stitution on this subject. The current government has made it
abundantly clear that slavery will not be tolerated in Mauritania.
Beginning last year, a campaign was initiated across the country,
mostly concentrated in the African American media, appealing to
African Americans about the question of slavery in Mauritania, for
obvious reasons. Ever since 1993, I have visited Mauritania on at
least two occasions every year and sometimes as many as four
times a year. Every time I visit I raise this question of slavery with
the U.S. Embassy, with the Palace, and on two occasions with the
President himself. Each time I have gotten full assurances about
the strong commitment to abolishing every vestige of slavery in
To show their commitment to the abolishment of this issue, the
Mauritanians have sent since 1993, that I know of, three delega-
tions, two of which I was intimately involved in. I took a delegation
headed by the President of the Senate, who in American terms
would be considered black, to Arizona, to meet with Reverend Leon
Sullivan and the leadership of the African American Summit. And
the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, in his testimony
today, made mention of that visit.
The focus of the visit was to convince Americans that the
Mauritanians were deeply committed to the elimination of every
vestige of slavery. Subsequently, a delegation went to Dakar, Sen-
egal, at the African/African American Summit headed by Reverend
Sullivan. The President of the Mauritanian Senate addressed the
problems and possibilities of democracy in Mauritania. Basically
what the President of the Senate said was that colonialism left
Mauritania in a desperate state of poverty and illiteracy. Ever
since independence, even under the military rule, the country has
moved forward to eliminate these two phenomena, including the
vestiges of slavery.
More recently, the government received a loan from the World
Bank to construct 600 schools, elementary schools, in the rural
areas of Mauritania, an issue in which the President and the Pal-
ace have taken a strong interest. The Mauritanians believe that
the one way to eliminate any vestige of slavery is through edu-
cation and economic development, and they are moving swiftly in
In the United States, the Mauritanian Friendship Society has is-
sued four reports. Last week, copies of the recent report was cir-
culated to authors and co-authors of H.R. 142 by Mr. Bereuter; and
today I have made copies available to members of the subcommit-
tee. The last report was written by an NGO in Mauritania and cir-
culated by the Friendship Society with a brief preface.
Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, the Mauritania
Government wishes to invite Members of Congress to travel to
Mauritania at any time. They have also asked anti-slavery groups
to provide evidence of specific time, place and names where they
believe there is evidence of slavery in Mauritania.
Today, one of the witnesses has so-named these incidents, and I
will take that up with the government.
In January of this year, I visited Mauritania on two occasions.
The first time I missed a meeting with the rector of the University
because he was in Paris. Both he and I considered the meeting so
important that I journeyed there the following week to meet him.
I subsequently came back to the United States attempting to seek
funds to no avail, and I want to address the question the chair of
the Subcommittee on Africa raised about the absence of funds.
I went to the Africa Bureau of U.S. A.I.D. to ask for some funds
to conduct a Conference on Democracy and they said they had no
money. And I went to the National Democratic Institute. Mauri-
tania is not even on their agenda. And so there is an absence of
financial interest in this question of eliminating the vestiges of
slavery in Mauritania.
Last week, however, I received a letter from the rector that he
is proceeding to raise funds for this conference. It is our intention
to invite pro-Africa groups and Members of Congress to attend this
Mr. Chairman, in my brief statement to you, I wish to give you
some assurances that the government of Mauritania considers this
a very serious matter and is deeply committed to the eradication
of all vestiges of slavery. Now, that is not to say that it is within
the realm of possibility that this situation may exist and there may
be appearances of slavery. I do not deny that. That is a possibility.
But let me conclude by quoting the recent Country Reports of the
U.S. Department of State, and I quote. "Some freed slaves have ei-
ther stayed with or returned to their former masters and continue
to provide labor in exchange for room and board and other basic
necessities. Others live independently but continue a symbiotic re-
lationship with their former masters performing occasionally paid
or unpaid labor in exchange for food, clothing and Medicare. There
are no reliable statistics for the number of Haratines who continue
to work for the same families for which they worked before the
emancipation of 1960, whether as paid or unpaid labor. Reports of
cases of involuntary servitude are rare and unconfirmed."
Mr. Chairman, I want to make four observations which are not
included in my written statement. First, the chair of the Sub-
committee on Africa raised the question of the absence of funds to
conduct classes and programs and institutes on this question on
the part of the U.S. Government and that is a fact.
Second, the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus made
an analogy to the Freedman's Bureau after the end of slavery in
the United States and I have been advocating that. I think I am
that close to getting the Mauritanian Government to respond to
that proposal, and I hope this conference that is being proposed
this spring in Mauritania will address that subject.
Third, the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus in Mau-
ritania would not be black. General Colin Powell, who may very
well be the first Republican Vice Presidential candidate, in Mauri-
tania would not be black. Indeed, his counterpart, the colonel of the
army of Mauritania, if you put him next to General Powell, one
would ask him if he were from Jamaica. He is not black. So one
has to be very careful when you talk about black and color in Mau-
And, finally, I regret very much because of a miscommunication
Dr. Ainina, the former Mauritanian ambassador to the United
States, was unable to testify, and I would like to include a state-
ment in the record at some subsequent time.
Mr. Chairman, I want to thank you very much for this oppor-
tunity. I am disposed to answering any question in the future.
Thank you very much.
(The prepared statement of Mr. Dymally appears in the appen-
Mr. Smith. Thank you very much, Mr. Dymally.
We will begin the questioning at this point.
I would like to note that Mr. Chabot has now joined us on the
subcommittee for these hearings, and we will yield to him momen-
I have been working on behalf of human rights as a Member of
Congress for 16 years. I have been all over the world, as you have
been. I have not been to Mauritania, although I have met with dip-
lomats and talked to people with regard to the issue. As a matter
of fact, I too was the congressional delegate to the United Nations,
and raised a number of issues relevant to human rights in Africa
when I was there, including what I thought was the unbelievable
abuse by General Magitsu when he used food as a weapon and ex-
acerbated what was a famine and used it to hurt people. We tried
to get corridors of tranquility established to get food stuffs to suf-
I mention that because we have testimony from very responsible
sources here, and the volume of testimony that continues to come
in to both of our subcommittees suggests that indeed slavery con-
tinues. It may be just de facto and not de jure. But, you know, it
has always struck me that in every country where human rights
abuses have been suggested, except with maybe the exceptions of
places like North Korea, there is always a law or some other cover
that the government hides behind. In bilaterals with the Soviets
during the 1980's, they always had a convention against — and you
just fill in the blank. They were signatories to U.N. conventions, for
example. They were signers of the Helsinki Final Act, which guar-
anteed all kinds of rights. They could always trot out their own
constitutions and say, "Look, freedom of religion is enshrined in
China does the same thing. Cuba does it as well, as the
gentlelady points out. They can show you chapter and verse on
paper. But the reality is far from the stated beliefs or at least the
articulated beliefs in those documents.
And now we have testimony by very responsible people who sug-
gest that indeed slavery is covert in Mauritania. That because of
all of the statements made, the government has made what I would
suggest are token efforts. I asked the Administration witness ear-
lier, how many of those judges lost their jobs? And I think his re-
sponse was three or four over the last several years. That is hardly
a crackdown on those judges who would deny people their freedom.
And he did not have the answer; perhaps you do, Mr. Dymally,
as to how many judges were brought up on charges of not permit-
ting people to be free as they ought to be. And where do we get
those statistics? Are they independently verified? Or are they just
spoon fed from the government, a fact that would raise my sus-
picions and, I think, those of many other people as well.
But how do you respond to the testimony that it has just gone
underground? Out of sight, out of mind. I mean how do you inde-
pendently verify it? You are a paid lobbyist for the government of
Mauritania. And for the record, if you could state what that salary
is, it would be helpful to our deliberations as well.
Mr. Dymally. It is $120,000.
Mr. Smith. Thank you.
Mr. Dymally. Mr. Chairman, I am not here in denial. I am here
to take the message back to Mauritania, and you have made a very
eloquent point. You sound as if you were Dymally in the Palace
talking, because that is the point that I try to make whenever I go.
As an aside, however, you made mention of another country,
Ethiopia. I am here pleading for some funds to resurrect the Mick-
ey Leland Home for Boys. Communism has forced people to be or-
phans at 30 years old. The 30-year war. And so it is a constant bat-
tle in Africa.
So back to Mauritania. I am not here to deny or to contradict
anyone. I am simply here to take the message back, and that is
what I have been doing since 1993, with some constancy, I think,
the chair of the Africa Subcommittee could tell you that; the chair
of the Congressional Black Caucus would tell you that; that I am
not here to contradict or to criticize anyone, but simply to listen to
what is going on here, take the message back to the President, to
the Palace, and to give you some assurances of every time I speak
with them, they are committed to this question of eliminating slav-
ery in Mauritania.
Mr. Smith. Do human rights organizations have unfettered ac-
cess to the country?
Mr. Dymally. Yes. I was recently assured in January that any-
one who wishes to come now, they can come. They had one dispute
with one organization in the United States which wanted guaran-
tees to come in and they felt it was intruding on their sovereignty,
but Freedom House just left there. I think they were there in ei-
ther January or February.
Mr. Smith. If a slave comes forward with testimony — and we
heard Dr. Jacobs describe some of the methods that have been
chronicled by Human Rights Watch Africa about what is done to
those people who step out of line, and he mentioned a third in his
testimony that is absolutely despicable — if people come forward
and tell these groups and representatives of human rights organi-
zations, do you have any fear whatsoever that there will be reper-
cussions visited upon those people?
Mr. Dymally. No, in fact, I have discussed this issue with the
Embassy. The invited members of the opposition, members of the
media. I raised that issue, would they join in an effort to help
groups from the United States and their response was favorable.
Mr. Smith. What I am getting at is, as these people come for-
ward and out of the household where they are literally captive,
what happens when they tell their story and then have to go back
to that house?
Mr. Dymally. Well, there have not been very many stories to the
Mr. Smith. Torture works.
Mr. Dymally. As far as I know.
Mr. Smith. My experience has always been that people are de-
terred from speaking by the grave implications of what might hap-
pen to them, which again has been chronicled by many of the
human rights groups.
Is it your testimony that there is no torture by government or by
a privatized method of torture where
Mr. Dymally. My testimony is that the government has told me,
and the embassy has told me, there is no torture.
Mr. Smith. Can you independently verify that?
Mr. DYMALLY. I am sorry?
Mr. Smith. Apart from statements by the government and our
own Embassy, which are at odds with testimony given here today,
can you independently verify that through your own sources?
Mr. Dymally. No. Except the word that I have gotten from both
Mr. Smith. From those two sources.
Mr. Dymally. Yes.
Mr. Smith. Mr. Cotton, did you want to respond to that?
Mr. Cotton. There is only one way to really respond to this, and
that is, we need to have a clear understanding of this country and
what is going on. And I respond to it by saying that their dialog
is very clever. When I do an analysis of the literature, they move
from slavery itself to the vestiges. And what is curious, is that they
have eliminated a class, that is in that country, in the discussion.
There are four classes that I took note of when I was in that
country. There are the Negro Africans, who are holding on to their
African culture and their heritage. And they call themselves Negro
Africans for that reason. There are the Haratines. Those are the
ones the State Department mentions in the discussion. These are
the ones they discuss that go in and out of slavery. That they
might listen to their master or they might not. That is the
But the class that is not discussed is always the mythical or the
mysterious — the missing 90,000. They are called Abd. Plural,
Abids. This 90,000 is not accounted for in any of their discussions.
However, the cases that he is talking about being brought to the
government are abundant.
I have pictures of four of them. They are right there. In terms
of the State Department, I have a contract of 1992. This particular
contract deals with the racial nature. This is an Islamic country,
but they buy and sell black Muslim people, which means, as from
the dialog with people, that these are sub-human people, which al-
lows them to buy and sell them with religious impunity. So a selec-
tive morality kicks in. That is why this government can carry on
like this with a clear conscience because the people they buy and
sell are not humans.
The contract opens, if I might read that to the record. This is for
1992 in the Islamic year 1412, the month of Hija. "In the name of
Allah most gracious and most merciful salutations and peace upon
him." They will cite the name of the people and the family name
so that the government, if they were interested, could trace it.
"Mohamed Vail Ould Nema, son of Sidiba, bought from Mohamed
Lemine Ould Sidi Mohamed, son of Taleb Ibrahim, a slave with her
daughter, named Kneiba, for the price of 50,000 Ouguiya received
entirely by the seller from the buyer. Therefore it becomes effective
his property of the two slaves listed. The two parties did receive
my witness and the buyer accepted this before the hidden defects
of the slaves. The contract was made at the end of the month of
Hija, of the year 1412, or 1992, by this judge or religious figure
Abedrabou Montali Ould Mohamed Abderrahmane, son of Berrou.
God forgive me and my father and all the believers."
This picture is the woman and the child in the contract. They
can be contacted in Nouakchott through the head of El Hor,
Messaoud Ould Boulkheir, which is not recognized by the govern-
ment. And she can be contacted because they are fighting in court
with this contract. This is the contract. This is the translation in
The buying and selling of people goes on and on. All of these in-
dividuals have a pattern that you can see in the film. And that par-
ticular pattern is, that once that woman runs, many times she is
permitted to run. Some of the reasons for that permission has to
do with the master does not feel like carrying her weight in his
household, but he has her babies so he has fresh slaves. So he will
let her go, knowing that the government does not have any pro-
grams. Just as I found them living in the streets and in barracks
in Nouakchott starving and carrying all sorts of labor trying to stay
alive, like buzzards, their masters know where they are, trace them
through other slaves, and then they show up. "Give me your babies
then. You are hungry. Why don't you come back and work?"
These are Haratines going in and out of slavery and runaway
slaves. The Abids, the slave class, are in slavery and have the slave
mentality, as it has been called many times in discussion, that of
a donkey. This is important to understand. A donkey mind.
I asked individuals what that meant and they talked about how
a donkey is tied outside of a building and he does not go anywhere.
You can beat his flanks blood red, splay them, but he does not
move. These individuals are raised from birth when they are bred.
They are told that the way to paradise is under the foot of their
This class of people stay in the hinterlands, the desert, or are
shipped out of the country. No studies have been done, or that can
be produced, whereas there was a government organization that
went to these Bedouin's tents, highly mobile people, who carry
their slaves from one place to the next, interviewed them, told
them what was happening.
So that is my response. My response is if he went to anti-slavery
organizations who are not acknowledged, they have cases upon
cases. They produce the people. They produced the pictures. But
this is not what he is interested in. That is my response.
Mr. Smith. Would either of you two gentlemen like to respond
Mr. Athie. Yes. I would like to add this. I have in my hand here
a petition that is written by some refugees, Mauritanian refugees,
against Ms. Dorothy Sampas, who is the U.S. ambassador in Mau-
ritania. And this petition is addressed to the President of the Unit-
"If Mauritania was at war, and it is, these slave masters would
be today tried and we would call a tribunal for them, an inter-
There are two kinds of crime against humanity in Mauritania.
First, the slavery issue. And I am sorry to see, Mr. Dymally, whom
I met twice, giving some kind of smooth response to the issue of
slavery in Mauritania. There is slavery — It is not black slavery, or
it looks like it, there is slavery. The buying and the selling of peo-
ple, human beings, who deserve to have the basic human rights ev-
People do not speak up and try to end this evil practice in this
country, and unfortunately, it is going on in most of Arabic coun-
tries. Whether we like it or not. I am a Muslim and I am proud
to be. This issue is going on in most Arabic countries and in par-
ticular here in Mauritania and Sudan.
I think there is a strong step that needs to be taken, and I am
glad we are here to talk to the U.S. Congress. Then from here we
go to the United Nations so some international pressure would be
put on these slave states. It is very unfortunate to have Mr. Dym-
ally here who is agent of the Mauntanian Government trying to di-
lute this issue. We are hurting in our bodies. We are being killed
day in, day out, 300,000 slaves, and this is an international organi-
zation that says this.
When you go to Mauritania, you do not need to investigate. You
will see slavery there — right from the airport. You do not need to
go inside the country, as has been suggested here. Right from the
airport you will see the slaves in Mauritania. It is horrible. And we
are still here in 1996 saying that it is a vestige slavery. This State
Department report is incomplete. And information that is incom-
plete is wrong. Totally wrong.
And there is a big difference between this report and the report
of 1991, 1992, and 1993. We would like to know what is the posi-
tion of the State Department on this issue today. We know that the
U.S. Ambassador in Mauritania has been very much criticized for
her actions. Here is the petition. And there is no faith at all today
in the U.S. Ambassador in Mauritania.
I would like to make it clear for the record. We are human beings
and we deserve respect. We are willing to work with the Arab-Ber-
bers in our country, but we do not want to be slaves — there are
also hundreds of thousands of people who are today deported by
Mr. Dymally. Mr. Chairman
Mr. Athie. And close to 500 people have been killed in jails. And
the people who killed them have been promoted. They are in the
government. What about all of the international laws? What is the
United Nations doing?
This is my response to this
Mr. Dymally. Mr. Chairman, I do not think
Mr. Smith. I will ask you to just hold that thought until Dr. Ja-
cobs, then I will gladly
Dr. Jacobs. Yes, just two points.
Mr. Dymally was asked about torture and he said that they told
him that they did not torture people.
I spoke to people in Amnesty International who told me that in
1990 and 1991 there was a massive ethnic cleansing of the free
blacks in the south. The free blacks in the south are in resistance
to the slavery and to the oppression by the Arab-Berbers.
They had the only fertile farmland left after the droughts and
they were pushed across the Senegal River into Senegal, and black
Africans in the army and in the civil service were jailed and tor-
tured. And people in Amnesty International who witnessed this
said it was the worst that they had ever seen.
In fact, there is a man sitting behind me and we had not planned
this — there is a man in this audience who was an army captain,
a Mauritanian black, and who has in audiences in Harlem and in
Brooklyn taken off his shirt to show the tortures that were done
to him, and perhaps Mr. Dymally ought to go outside with us and
see the scars. He might return and tell us he's getting a different
Mr. Dymally. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I did not know that I
was on trial here. Neither did I know that Ambassador Sampas
was on trial.
Some of the people who signed that petition are refugees who
seek to become political refugees so they can obtain asylum in the
United States and they are unhappy about that. That is all I need
I am simply here to express a point of view, not to criticize any-
body's testimony or to deny it. Simply to let you know that this is
a matter which I take up at least twice a year when I go to Mauri-
tania, expressing congressional unhappiness with this subject. I
think the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, the chair-
man of the subcommittee will tell you, I have brought delegations
so that they can express their unhappiness to these delegations.
Mr. Cotton. Please. It is very important. I would like to add, I
appreciate what Mr. Dymally said, because what he is saying is
very informative. I spent 4 days in the refugee camps, living and
sleeping in them along the river. And interviewed numbers of peo-
ple. This is the consensus amongst the leaders and the people. That
Madam Sampas, as they call her, is the one who is really working
for the government of Mauritania. They feel that Madam Sampas
is the person who takes the government's view. Whenever they are
in conversations with her, they speak like Donnelly.
Mr. Dymally. He is the ambassador to Trinidad.
Mr. COTTON. Excuse me. Your name, sir.
Mr. Dymally. Dymally.
Mr. COTTON. Dymally. I am sorry.
They speak like Dymally. In otner words, when they say, "This
is happening to us," she says, "But the President Taya, I met with
him and this is what he told me." Whenever they bring up issues,
this is what she does. She espouses the governmental view.
So I had that particular data recorded as to know how they view
her, how they are distrustful of her, and afraid of her, because they
feel she is behind a movement to send them back to Mauritania.
Now, she is alleged to have said that they are interested in stay-
ing there. This sort of voices the gentleman's sentiment that they
are staying there because they get free food or they want a shot
at the United States.
These people, if you remember the New York Times article, go
down to the river and stare across the river at their farms, at peo-
ple who own their cattle now. They had villages. They were busi-
nessmen. They were prosperous people. They were working hard.
Their centers of commerce were in the south. How was it that sud-
denly they have acquired great and massive character defects, and
now they want to be lazy and to live off the crumbs that they live
I went to desolate, lonely, with no electricity, places far out into
the countryside. They do not want to stay there. They would like
to go across the river back to where it was lush and where they
had their farms.
So this is a common thing for representatives of that govern-
ment, even representatives from our government, to say, "What
does Taya say?" This was not just voiced by people who were refu-
gees. I also have a recorded record of the Widows. Now, the Wid-
ows is an organization of women whose husbands, whose sons,
whose brothers, were tortured to death and murdered. And they
have been constantly going to the U.S. Ambassador, and she told
them in an interview, ^Vell, forget about this right now. Life is like
that. Don't push things." They do not trust her either. By that
time, I was in Mauritania.
So the feeling is that the United States is in harmony with the
slavery because she espouses and voices whatever they tell her to
The problem again is this. The anti-slavery organizations which
are not recognized by the government — now, we have to ask our-
selves why would a country, interested in ceasing the aspect of
slavery, not recognize two organizations who have files on slavery
and whose main agenda, at the risk of their lives, because they are
a small percentage of this free slave population — not dominated
people. Why would they not be part of any governmental arrange-
ment to monitor the government's progress to give them sugges-
tions as to how to do this? They are not monitored. They are not
involved because relationships are being developed between the
former slaves and Negro Africans. This would unify the country.
And because these coalitions are being made, these two groups who
have not been co-opted and given big salaries to stop their discus-
sion on this issue, are now working with the Negro Africans on a
coalition against slavery.
This is another important point in terms of understanding what
truth is. Haratines have been responsible for the murder of 1,000
Negro Africans. So in their minds — the Negro Africans, who are
these Haratines who have been under control of the Arabs for cen-
turies, think that we should trust them. But the issue of slavery
is so great in their minds in terms of humiliation of their people,
in terms of a system of apartheid, that they are coming together.
So the government will not involve them.
This is important. How can, again, the United States of America,
my country, with the knowledge of a Freedman's Bureau, with uni-
versities that train researchers, and know how to do interviews,
know how to take numbers, know how important it is to have ob-
servers, how is it that the State Department would move over
90,000 and arrive at the word "vestige"? This is causing black Afri-
cans in that country to feel one thing. When America, a powerful
bright resourceful country, is able to make a move like that, it has
another agenda. Is that agenda: Since Iraq is no longer having
trouble — and relationships were supposedly broken between Mauri-
tania and Iraq, now that this has happened, we are not going to
be that concerned about slavery and we will now shift our policy?
This might not be true. But it is in the minds of the suppressed
in that country. They have cases, Mr. Chairman and Madam
Chairperson, that can be pulled out, the people can be traced. Their
families can be traced. They have, especially this woman here,
Aichanna Mint Abeid Boilil, has five children who are in slavery
right now. If the State Department wants to contact her, she will
tell them what families they are with, what area they are in, and
who is renting them now.
So I wanted to add that because his dialog helps us to appreciate
that it is the U.S. Government's position, once Mauritania gives
their position, the U.S. Government officials or their representa-
tives, say, "Thank you, President Taya." And they walk away.
Mr. Smith. Mr. Cotton, thank you for those comments.
Before I yield to the Chairwoman of the Africa Subcommittee,
one of the biggest concerns we have on this subcommittee is the
white-washing of crimes and the belittling of crimes against hu-
manity, and certainly slavery fits that definition.
Last year we had a hearing — a series of hearings on the Country
Reports on Human Rights Practices — and one of the more telling
comments by Amnesty International was that in this Administra-
tion, human rights had been an island. No connection to policy.
Very often their statements — the Country Reports — are relatively
accurate, but when it comes down to linkages to policy, it is not
there. Which means it is an exercise in just exposing something
and then doing nothing.
In the case of Mauritania, this apparent rewriting of reality — and
we are going to delve much further into this on both of these sub-
committees — raises the specter of the government misinforming
and becoming part of the whitewashing of these atrocities.
You know, Mr. Dymally, you said you were not on trial. You are
the government spokesman here representing the government. I do
not think it is fair to say that you are acting in a neutral position
or just as a conduit of information back and forth, which is why
I asked you before what your sources of information are.
Like a good reporter, we always want to know what are the
sources, where is information coming from? And the government is
just spoon-feeding information and there is a give and take back
and forth. The victims are not served by that process.
Mr. Dymally. Mr. Chairman, I had
Mr. Smith. Let me just finish and then I will be happy to yield
I would hope, and perhaps you can agree to it right here, that
you would join people like Mr. Cotton and others and visit ladies
like the lady that he has described here and talk to her. And then
represent to the government what the information is that you are
finding. Because very often our country reporting on human rights
practices falls far below a standard of really trying to seek out the
unvarnished truth. And if we buy into some fiction, shame on us,
as Americans and as a Congress. And this is bipartisan. You know,
the gentleman from New Jersey, my good friend, Mr. Payne, has
been outspoken on this, for which we are all indebted to him.
Human rights abuses anywhere in the world need to be exposed.
I do not care, you know, who comes and makes presentations about
them. We need to expose them and try to mitigate and hopefully
And so let us stand in solidarity with the victims. I urge you to
go to the refugee camps and talk to people other than just the gov-
ernment and perhaps bump into some of these people who could
really direct you to the real victims.
Mr. Dymally. I said before, I welcome your remarks. I will take
them back to the appropriate authorities. I still insist I am not on
trial here. I am an advocate
Mr. Smith. It is the government's policies that are being scruti-
Mr. Dymally. I have no problem with that.
Mr. Smith. And you are the representative.
Mr. Dymally. I have no problems with your criticism. I, Mervyn
Dymally, am not on trial. That is all I said. Period. We may dis-
agree on that, but I am not on trial.
Let me say this to you. That I plan to do just that. My role is
not all-inclusive. There are human rights groups which do what
they do very well. My role is to do what they do not do. That is,
to take the message to the proper authorities as often as I can, and
I do it at least twice a year. And I do not go there without meeting
with the Chef de Cabinet, and expressing to him congressional con-
cerns. What the Congressional Black Caucus thinks, what the
chairman — how strongly he feels about this, what the African
American community feels, what the media is saying, that is my
role. And I do not go there apologizing but trying to get them to
shift in an area that would reconcile their differences with the U.S.
Government and the Congress. That is all — that is the role I play.
Now, I plan to expand my role to do exactly what you suggest.
This July I will spend approximately 3 or 4 weeks there and visit
the camps and the refugees in the rural areas. I have done quite
a bit of it, and I have done a lot of meetings. So I am not defending
what these men are saying or criticizing. I am simply saying I have
a particular role. Each one of us has a role. You are not a member
of the New Jersey legislature. You are a Member of Congress. And
the legislature takes care of problems and the city councnmen take
care of potholes. I take care of the Congress. I go back to Mauri-
tania and I say, "The Congress is very unhappy."
I took a delegation to meet the chairman of the Congressional
Black Caucus, and I told them he only saw you because he is my
personal friend. Because he is so unhappy about the situation
there. I try to impress upon them as often as I can the unhappiness
in Congress. But I will expand my role.
Mr. Smith. Do you agree witn the State Department's assess-
ment that slavery has virtually disappeared in Mauritania?
Mr. Dymally. Yes.
Mr. Smith. You do? Have you heard anything today that would
cast some doubt on that?
Mr. Dymally. Yes.
Mr. Smith. Did you hear anything new today?
Mr. Dymally. Yes.
Mr. Smith. I appreciate that.
Mr. Payne. Thank you very much.
Let me thank the panel for your testimony, and as it was indi-
cated, I received a delegation from Mauritania since I had been so
outspoken and had a panel at the Congressional Black Caucus
dealing with the problems, particularly in Mauritania.
And I did ask at that time if there could be some proclamation
from the government to reaffirm its opposition to slavery and to
make some declarations that would show that the government op-
posed covert slavery. As we talked earlier, the de facto as opposed
to de jure.
But to this day, I have not had anything sent to me that says
that they have taken some action on that.
And so I would just like to ask Mr. Dymally what has happened
to that request, and if, in fact, they have made some progress on
Mr. Dymally. Subsequent to your meeting with the President of
the Senate, I took them to Dakar, Senegal, to influence that deci-
sion. Met with the President, met with the Chef de Cabinet, the
Minister of Foreign Affairs, expressed your concern, which I share.
I have been urging them to set up a bureau, a commission, an of-
fice. I think I have succeeded in moving to the point of holding a
conference this fall to which we would invite Members of Congress
and pro-Africa groups. I have submitted the names of just about
every pro-Africa group I can think of to attend this conference. And
so we are moving there slowly.
But I must admit that they have a philosophical problem, a phil-
osophical difference, with you. They believe that since they de-
clared that slavery ended, it would be admitting that you are still
beating your wife to set up a bureau. It would be like calling upon
Congress to implement the 13th Amendment. That has been their
response. But I have consistently urged them to change that posi-
tion and I hope that this spring we will have begun in that direc-
tion, and that your presence there or members of the Congressional
Black Caucus will influence that final decision.
Mr. Payne. I am glad that there is continued discussion. But you
see, the whole denial questions, problems, can never be solved. And
although you say it would be an admission, there is a denial that
vestiges still remain.
It is like any kind of illness. Unless you recognize you have a
problem, then you cannot deal with the problem. If you deny that
there is indeed a mental health problem, or any kind of substance
problem, or even a physical problem of health, if you deny it and
do not take that to the proper authorities to look at it, then nothing
will happen. And if the government philosophically feels it is an ad-
mission that there are still vestiges of slavery, if indeed they did
some proactive work, then the situation is not going to get any bet-
ter. The economic situation is not improving to the degree that peo-
ple then can motivate themselves to move out on their own once
this invisible hand is still over them and these invisible strings are
still holding them. They say, "Well, you are free. No one is going
to prevent you from leaving." But by the same token, as I indicated
before, in 1863, when slaves in the United States were freed, they
looked out and said, "Free to go where? At least there is a leaky
roof here and the option is across the street, sleeping in the woods
And so the government set up the bureau to assist the freedmen
and changed tne law so that they could vote. And in 1868, after the
Freedman's Bureau was formed in 1865, in 1868, as a matter of
fact, slaves, former slaves, gave Grant the overwhelming vote of
over 90 percent of the 450,000 voted, and Grant won the election
of president by 300,000 votes. It was actually the former slaves be-
cause Grant lost the white vote actually.
And so it was because of a concerted effort on the part of the
U.S. Government to say "You are free. These are your rights. This
is how you do it. This is what we say the steps are. This is how
a business is run. This is where you can go. This is what we will
provide — some direction."
There was a concerted effort. Of course, we are talking, you
know, 100 years ago, 125 years ago. And so it is not even
recreating the wheel. I could get the Library of Congress, you
know, to give you the Freedman's Bureau legislation to take back
with them. I mean, you know, if they need some kind of a frame-
work. But if in fact they are going to continue to deny that there
is indeed a need for this, then the problem is going to continue, it
is going to worsen. People's rights are not going to be heard and
the problem is not going to go away.
And the only way that we will be able to send a message is that
we have to tnen have stronger policies toward Mauritania and
other countries that refuse to move in the right direction. And I
think it is an obligation, a responsibility, an obligation for our Con-
gress to have more stringent legislation directed to countries where
it is philosophical or whatever the reason are not working — you
know, they can do what they want to do, but they cannot do it with
our support and the support of other world bodies that would nor-
mally be involved in attempting to move this along.
And so, you know, there are so many unanswered questions even
in the human rights reports. They still say that the government is
not forthcoming in addressing the vestiges of slavery and it is
talked about in Section 6C. The discrimination laws favor individ-
uals on the basis of ethnic and tribal affiliation, social status, and
political ties. These things are — and, of course, traditional mal-
treatment. We have not even gotten into the question of women,
which are just really mistreated in so many ways. That is a whole
We realize it is a complicated and complex country, but if the
Nation itself decided that it wanted to move into the 21st century,
and move out of the dark passes of former years, they could do it.
And I think that we will have responsibility to keep the pressure
on Mauritania and on Sudan and any other country where we see
continued violation of human rights, and it is a responsibility of
this body to do that.
I mean there are no questions. If slavery was ended, what kind
of compensation? No one knows what happened. What happened to
the 90,000 people who were slaves and all of a sudden they were
decreed free? Where did they go? Where is that whole body of peo-
ple? There are so many unanswered questions. You therefore as-
sume that it is illogical to think that they have dispersed. And in-
deed they are in fact primarily still in the situation that they were
in several years ago.
Mr. Dymally. Mr. Payne.
Mr. Payne. Yes.
Mr. Dymally. So powerful were your words. When I went there,
I convened a meeting of the opposition and asked the specific ques-
tion. "If the government opens up a bureau against slavery, would
you oppose it?" And the answer was no. "Would you criticize the
Mr. Chairman, each one of us plays a different role. My role is
a different role from these gentlemen here. My role is to push the
government as a result of congressional sentiment. That is how I
see my role.
And after the meeting with Mr. Payne, I went back there, con-
vened a meeting, as former chair of the Africa Subcommittee, and
met with the opposition and the media and asked that specific
question. "Would you oppose a bureau against slavery?" The an-
swer was no. And I took that message back to the government and
I will take it again when I go back in July or probably before. And
that is what I do.
In a way, I am on their side trying to clear this question up but
in a different way. They would not listen to me if I went there call-
ing them bad names.
Mr. Athie. Can I add something?
Mr. Dymally said earlier that these petitioners do want to have
Mr. Dymally. I said some. I did not say all.
Mr. Athie. Pardon?
Mr. Dymally. I said some.
Mr. Athie. How do you know that?
Mr. Dymally. I have my sources as you do.
Mr. Athie. These people want to go back to Mauritania. They do
not want to come here on political asylum status. They are farm-
ers. They have been living in their country for generations. All they
know is Mauritania. That land that we call Mauritania. Whether
the government wants it or not, they are from that country. And
now the Mauritanian Government is trying to fool the international
public opinion by sending here an ex-slave as a Mauritanian am-
I think that is just an insult to the intelligence of the American
public. The real question is how to solve the problem of slavery in
Mauritania. This is the real question, by not sending just one per-
son who is going to come here with the mission of saying, "Look,
I'm a former slave, and if I can be a diplomat or an ambassador,
then there is no slavery in Mauritania." This is the kind of thing
that we are going to have and really we just want to reject that
nomination of an ex-slave who is working for the government to
just not go straight to the real problem of solving the problem of
slavery in Mauritania.
And there are many more. I do not trust the Mauritanian Gov-
ernment to hold a Freedman Bureau. This government is not credi-
First, they killed all these people, 500 people in jail, and thou-
sands tortured. And then they deported close to 100,000 people,
and they still have this institution of slavery, and it is only the
government that can do it. But this is not the government that is
going to solve the problem in Mauritania. Not this government of
iolonel Maaouya Ould Sid Ahmed Taya, who was siding Iraq
against the United States. This is somebody who does not believe
in democracy. He does not have any respect for human beings. The
black who are there are just for him slaves.
This is the real situation. I do not think even if we have a Freed-
man Bureau with this government, it is going to be another way
to control the slaves, but not to free them.
Mr. Cotton. I would like to add a recommendation to the com-
mittee. This country must be understood in terms of slavery as a
nugget, existing in a universe of apartheid in a differentiated form.
When we think about it, the Negro Africans have endured humil-
iation, racism, deprivation because of their race, murder, of the
worst form, brutalization. They have lived this while slavery re-
volves in the middle.
So it is important to recognize that if the United States sends
people to understand, all respects due to Mr. Dymally, they would
not trust him, just like a Jewish person who saw someone come
from Himmler's cabinet, to talk to them about — and to ask them
for information on people. They would not do that.
I would not have been allowed in a safe house to look at a
woman running from her master if they knew the next day I was
having dinner with Taya.
So when we approach this — my research was successful because
I am an African American who had the features, could go and put
on the clothing of the people, live in the community, live in the ref-
ugee camps and just talk and walk and record. I did not represent
a threat to them. I had spent a year making contacts here so I
could be vouched for when I arrived.
So we must also recognize that when these people think about
going back, they are thinking about returning to a period of time
of nightmares, of rapes, of being shot to death, thrown in the river
to drown. And that is what they do. They go to the river and they
look over to their land.
I did not observe anyone saying that they wanted to come back
here. They want to go back there but they have no guarantees from
the government for protection. Their land has been given to Tua-
regs, who came with their own slaves from Mali.
So what happens? Since the whole aspect of slavery is based on
complete economic deprivation, the humiliation of the subject,
being Abd from birth; if you have now taken, the proud people who
had their lands, who had their farms and their cattle, who had
commerce back and forth across the river — you have now taken
that all from them, killed their families, promoted the people who
murdered them, and now, with nothing when they are destitute,
you ask them to return.
Who therefore is returning? Someone just one notch away from
complete subservience, dependent on whoever gives them some-
thing to eat or work at.
And it is important to understand that this is a process of ethnic
cleansing, the breaking and the humiliation of a black race of peo-
ple. If they are forced to return because they will be starved in
Senegal, the fate of those who return you simply have to use your
imagination. Those who return are activists who have been voicing
things against the government, who have families there. So this
wanting to return is based on requirements. "Will you guarantee
us protection? Who will watch out for us?"
You know, sir, rapes are still going on in the villages across the
river. There is the gendarmerie that still runs around with former
slaves at their command that beat people, shoot people. It is not
the frequency it was before, but the refugees know because of the
traffic that is going back and forth across that river, what is hap-
pening inside the country.
So when we talk about the U.S. Government being part of a push
to go back to your land now and Senegal, saying, "Hey, you can't
have refugee status. Go back home." We are asking people, and I
would like to make this clear — and like I say, this is analogous to
saying to people, people who escaped from Auschwitz and Dacchau:
"Look, we are sorry. Come back home."
If this understanding is not clear, we will not be working the
problem from the standpoint of the people. If you will notice,
human rights organizations that went to — and I appreciate Free-
dom House. I have worked with them. But when Freedom House
went, two white men went. Two white men. How are white men
going to blend into a community and see and talk to people? The
moment they hit the communities, who are these white men and
who are they connected with? Well, they are staying at the hotel
and they are also working with the U.S. Ambassador. "That is the
kiss of death. And they are also working with the government.
So African Americans or Africans who cannot be compromised —
or, my God, if we can find these things — should be sent on a mis-
sion of fact finding with the ability to move to and fro.
As you know, and I do not think this was answered honestly, the
London anti-slavery organization, please call Michael Dottridge of
that organization, is not permitted. They are the ones that came
in after the 1980 edict and said, "Look. You said it's over, but we
count 100,000 plus 300,000 part time." So this is something that
must be understood.
The last point for psychological understanding is this. The people
in that country have been raised for centuries to listen to their
masters. I do not know how important this is to the State Depart-
ment because they seem to go over this point. We all know of a
woman or a child who has been incested from the time they are 2
years old. And that father can walk over to that child and incest
them at 16 years old. Even if the child runs away, the father can
walk over to the child and say, "Come on baby, we're going home."
That child will go home with him. That wife who has been bru-
talized will go home with him. This is a people raised at the level
of animals. They will run away. They will think about it; then they
hear their master's voice.
I was told that even Haratines that I was working with and help-
ing, if their master asked them about me, that I was there, they
would freely tell them.
So please allow individuals who understand, from the side of the
oppressed, their psycho-social condition, their conditioning for hun-
dreds of years, the power of that government the fear of living in
a terrorist nation. I am talking about terrorism on their own peo-
ple. This must be taken into account and be understood.
So we can say to this gentleman here, Dymally, go and talk to
them. I will tell you who they see when he comes to them.
These things must be taken into consideration. If not, we are
being totally insensitive to a very brutalized people by asking
them, "Open up to us. Tell us. Give us key people. Let us talk to
people who are hiding. What are their names? Take me to the safe
nouses." And then after this is over, let us say, after we all go
home and the cameras go off, and then it is nighttime, and I was
there at nighttime, then there are headlights. Then people dis-
appear. Then people are beaten to death.
So, just as we went home from Selma, Alabama, after a voter's
registration drive, those people have to live there. And we have to
be very cognizant of that, if our motive is to uproot this century's
oldest heinous activity and also approach these people in a way it
can be therapeutic and helpful to them.
And that is my recommendation, sir.
Mr. Smith. Mr. Cotton, thank you for that very eloquent and so-
phisticated read of the situation, which I think is necessary. Other-
wise, in my view, we are talking about a village where people go
and they look without really seeing.
And I would urge Mr. Dymally, with all due respect, to really
take back the message of our concern, Democrats and Republicans,
of this subcommittee and the gentlelady from Florida. More scru-
tiny, not less, more concern, not less, will be brought to bear on
these issues. We heed the insights of our distinguished panel and
I know I am most grateful for what you have done this afternoon.
Mr. Dymally. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. You can be assured I
Mr. Smith. Very short. Because the next panel needs to get un-
Mr. Dymally. Thank you very much. You can be assured I will
take back the message.
Mr. Smith. OK. I appreciate that.
I would like to again thank this panel, and invite the third panel,
if they would come to the witness table.
Meanwhile, I would ask Congressman Frank Wolf if he would
join us. Mr. Wolf has been a leader on behalf of human rights
around the world. He and I have traveled to many countries. He
has undertaken three trips to Sudan, and has spoken out very
boldly on behalf of human rights, both in that country as well as
here in the United States.
I would ask him if he would come and join us for this next panel.
And I would ask Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen if she would in-
troduce our panel.
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. We welcome the panelists who will be ap-
pearing before us. Baroness Caroline Cox, Deputy Speaker of the
House of Lords; Gaspar Biro, Special Human Rights Rapporteur to
the United Nations; Kevin Vigilante, Clinical Associate Professor of
Medicine, Brown University School of Medicine; and Augustine
Lado, President of Pax Sudani.
Baroness Caroline Cox is a board member of the United Kingdom
branch of the Christian Solidarity International, a human rights
organization working for victims of repression worldwide. She has
visited Sudan on behalf of this group many times, most recently in
January of this year, and three times the previous year, obtaining
first-hand evidence of human rights violations from former slaves,
families with enslaved relatives, and survivors of militia slave
The evidence which she will present today will be based on these
first-hand accounts of modern-day slavery.
We thank you for that.
I will read the introduction to our other panelists.
Dr. Gaspar Biro is a U.N. Special Rapporteur on Sudan. Since
his appointment in 1993, Dr. Biro has made two trips to Sudan and
several trips to neighboring countries to investigate human rights
abuses. He has been banned from Sudan since 1994, after his first
report to the United Nations prompted the Sudanese Government
to label him worst than Rushdie for his Satanic report. He has pub-
lished several reports since then.
Dr. Kevin Vigilante is representing the Puebla Institute, a pri-
vate human rights organization based here. Dr. Vigilante has spent
10 days in Khartoum, Sudan, last year on a human rights fact-find-
ing mission. Two years ago he was included in Time Magazine's list
of the top 50 leaders of the future under the age of 40, and received
46 percent of the vote when he ran for the House of Representa-
tives in Rhode Island's District 1. He graduated from Cornell Uni-
versity Medical School and completed his residency at Yale.
Dr. Augustine Lado was born in South Sudan and is now a refu-
gee living in the United States He is chairman of the Coalition
Against Slavery in Mauritania and Sudan, and President of Pax
Sudani, a human rights organization campaigning against slavery
in Sudan. In addition to publishing several articles on slavery and
genocide in Sudan, Mr. Lado organized a symposium on the subject
and has made presentations at the Abolitionist Conference at Co-
lumbia, the Sudan Association Conference in Boston, and at an
Amnesty International-sponsored conference on the plight of indig-
We welcome all of the panelists and we will begin with Baroness
STATEMENT OF BARONESS CAROLINE COX, DEPUTY
SPEAKER, HOUSE OF LORDS
Baroness Cox. Madam Chairman, thank you for this invitation
to give evidence this afternoon.
As you have said, my evidence is based on first-hand experiences
obtained during eight visits to Sudan over the past 4 years; six to
Southern Sudan, including two to the Nuba Mountains; one to the
north to meet the government and to visit territories controlled by
the government. And one to the Eritraen-Sudanese borderlands.
The visits are sponsored by Christian Solidarity International or
CSI, a human rights organization working for victims of repression
regardless of their creed, color or nationality.
We focus particularly on people cut off from major humanitarian
organizations, such as U.N. organizations or the International
Committee of the Red Cross, because those organizations can only
visit places with the permission of a sovereign government.
Being independent, we can go to people who are denied access by
those organizations and therefore we can meet people who are
bereft of aid and also of the advocacy that goes with aid.
Referring to that word "independence" reminds me that I must
emphasize that I am not speaking on behalf of the British Govern-
ment, but on behalf of CSI.
On the basis of eyewitness evidence and of firsthand accounts,
we testify to gross violations of human rights inflicted by and/or en-
couraged by the government of Sudan, including widespread and
systematic slavery of men, women and children.
Government troops and government-backed Popular Defense
Forces, or PDF, regularly raid black African communities to cap-
ture the slaves and other forms of booty. The slaves, in most cases
children and young women, are taken north where they are forced
to provide domestic and agricultural labor and sexual services
against their will, for nothing other than a minimum of food for
Those who are Christians are generally given Muslim names and
forced to observe Muslim rituals. Some boys are forced to attend
Koranic schools or PDF training camps where they are trained to
wage war against their own people.
We offer sources of evidence from three regions in Sudan. First,
in Northern Bahr-El-Ghazal. We have stayed on three occasions in
the town of Nyamllel and walked to surrounding villages and to
the market town of Manyel, where Arab traders bring back slaves
to sell them to their families.
We have met many people who have been enslaved as chattel
slaves who have escaped or been brought back by the Arab traders.
We have taken their testimonies which are published in the accom-
We have also spoken to the Arab traders, who have described in
detail how they bring back women and children from the north to
sell them back to their families, for the sums of money, averaging
5,000 Sudanese pounds per slave. The average price per slave is
five head of cattle.
We have also seen the evidence of barbarities perpetrated during
the slave raids by government and PDF forces against black Afri-
can towns and villages.
We have seen the scars caused by torture of men and women, es-
pecially the elderly, who are not taken as slaves. We have seen the
evidence of looting, pillaging and the destruction of buildings, in-
cluding homes, churches and clinics, and the burning of crops.
In the second area, in the Nuba Mountains, we have met women
and children who have been detained in so-called peace camps or-
ganized by the government or in government garrisons. Some had
been captured in military attacks on their villages. Others have
been forced to go to government-controlled areas to seek food or
medicine for survival. Once there, they were forced to renounce
their Christian names, to adopt Muslim names and practices, and
were subjected to sexual abuse and forced labor.
Again, detailed case studies of these are published in our accom-
panying documents which have been circulated.
In the third area, the Eritrea-Sudanese borderlands, we have
met boys and young men belonging to the Muslim Beja people, who
gave evidence of their abduction and enforced conscription in the
government army to fight against the peoples of the South and the
Nuba Mountains. We have personal testimonies from those who
have been captured for this purpose but who have managed to es-
In all places we have visited, both Christian and Muslim commu-
nity leaders, civil administrators, professional personnel, and mili-
tary commanders have given us detailed accounts of violations of
human rights by the government of Sudan as part of their policies
of subjugation of the people of the South and the Nuba Mountains,
including systematic slavery, enforced labor, the use of hunger to
force people to leave their homes to seek food, and the manipula-
tion of aid as a means of enforced Islamization of non-Muslims.
These policies need to be seen in the wider context of other viola-
tions of human rights perpetrated by the regime, including ground
and aerial offensives against civilians. Overall, IV2 million people
have died and over 5 million have been displaced in the recent
years of this civil war.
And it must also be remembered that the government is oppress-
ing many Muslim people in the North, both the Muslim Beja people
and other Muslims who oppose the regime in Khartoum. During
our visit to Northern Sudan, and also to Cairo, we have taken evi-
dence from many Muslims who have suffered unlawful arrest, de-
tention, maltreatment, and severe torture at the hands of the re-
gime in Khartoum.
I finish, if I may, by offering three conclusions and four rec-
The first conclusion. The government's policy toward the people
of the South and the Nuba Mountains is tantamount to genocide
by means of terror, war, slavery, the mass displacement of the pop-
ulation, and the manipulation of aid. And in particular, widespread
systematic slavery continues on a large scale in government-con-
trolled areas of Sudan.
Second, the raids by government troops and government-backed
PDF militia against African towns and villages of the South and
the Nuba Mountains are accompanied by atrocities, by the capture
of men, women and children for slavery, by torture, rape, looting,
and destruction of buildings and property. Those not taken into
slavery are generally killed and/or tortured.
And, third, humanitarian aid fails to reach hundreds of thou-
sands of victims of war and famine. The government continues to
refuse to give access to the United Nations and to NGO's, to SPLA-
administered areas in the Nuba Mountains, and to many areas in
This denial of access to aid organizations causes massive suffer-
ing and is used to create hunger as a weapon in the Government's
policy of enforced migration which facilitates its program of en-
slavement and forced labor.
Recommendations. We believe the time has come for the inter-
national community to take a firmer stand against the govern-
ment's policies of slavery and genocide in the broader sense involv-
ing destruction of life, culture, language, community, religion and
C.S.I, therefore calls on the international community and in par-
ticular on the member States of the U.N. Security Council to build
on the recent U.N. Security Council resolution and in the event of
failure by the government of Sudan to comply with the conditions
of that resolution, to consider a range of sanctions from denial of
visas, to the imposition of oil and arms embargoes.
We also call on the international community to prevail upon the
government of Sudan to cease hostilities against civilians in the
South and the Nuba Mountains, to honor its voluntarily accepted
human rights obligations to all its citizens, to allow access to
human rights monitors to all areas of Sudan under the direction
of the U.N. Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Sudan.
These monitors could investigate the extent of slavery and other
violations of human rights. If the regime in Khartoum has nothing
to fear, it should have no reservation about allowing such access
to all parts of Sudan by humanitarian aid organizations and to
allow the international community to direct aid to the no-go areas.
Finally, Madam Chairman, CSI also urges the international com-
munity to support the IGADD Declaration of Principles calling for
the right of self-determination, secular government, and democracy;
and to support Sudan's democratic opposition groups which rep-
resent over 90 percent of the population; and to encourage the Na-
tional Democratic Alliance as it seeks to develop policies to promote
peace and justice for all people in Sudan including the abolition of
Madam Chairman, unless the international community succeeds
in preventing the government of Sudan from continuing its brutal
programs and policies, the tragedy which is already of catastrophic
proportions will escalate even further and mean yet more horrific
suffering for the peoples of Sudan.
This tragedy will certainly create a bottomless pit of need for hu-
manitarian aid and may also cost the international community a
high price in terms of political instability.
Thank you very much.
(The prepared statement of Baroness Cox appears in the appen-
Mr. Smith. Baroness Cox, thank you very much for your testi-
STATEMENT OF GASPAR BIRO, SPECIAL HUMAN RIGHTS
RAPPORTEUR TO THE UNITED NATIONS
Dr. Biro. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
I wish to begin by emphasizing how honored I feel to be before
this distinguished body and to provide testimony regarding my
findings on the situation of human rights in Sudan, with special re-
gard to contemporary forms of slavery and practices similar to slav-
Mr. Chairman, since 1993, when I had undertaken my mandate
as the Special Rapporteur of the U.N. Commission on Human
Rights, I received numerous reports and information and collected
dozens of eyewitness testimonies indicating that contemporary
forms of slavery, including the slave trade, forced labor and ser-
vitude are widespread and systematic practices condoned and tac-
itly approved by the government of Sudan.
I would like to share with you some of the evidence that I discov-
ered supporting this conclusion.
Different paramilitary units are fighting together with the army
in Southern Sudan and the Nuba Mountains. These paramilitary
units include the Popular Defense Forces (PDF), the PDF, created
in November 1989, groups of volunteers called Murahaleen and
Arab tribal militias armed and controlled by the government of
Numerous reports and testimonies received during my missions
to Sudan and some neighboring countries with hundreds of thou-
sands of Sudanese refugees indicate that members of these groups
are carrying out systematically abductions of civilians during or
after military operations. They are also providing armed guards for
places where the victims are temporarily held and are also in
charge of their transportation to the final destinations.
A high-ranking PDF commander from Kadugli, the Nuba Moun-
tains, confirmed to me, for example, during an official meeting in
1993, that his troops are given orders to collect and transport civil-
ians from the rebel-held areas to the government of Sudan-run ref-
ugee camps after taking over these villages from the rebels.
There is evidence also of cases when army officers captured and
brought with them to Northern Sudan, Southern children who then
serve as servants in their households.
The vast majority of the victims are women and children belong-
ing to ethnic, racial and religious minorities from Southern Sudan
and indigenous African tribes from the Nuba Mountains area.
Women and girls are used as concubines or are forced to work for
soldiers. Several cases of rape were reported even in camps for dis-
placed run by the government of Sudan or organizations working
with the government of Sudan in the Kordofan area. Boys and
young men are used mainly as servants.
There are reports, and my own findings in the Nuba Mountains
confirmed these reports, that a number of people are obliged to
work on large agricultural schemes run by individual landowners
close to the government of Sudan. The most exposed of all these
categories of victims are members of the Dinka tribe living in
Northern Bahr-al-Ghazal, especially the Dinka-Gogrial.
I received during my September 1993 visit to Wau, the capital
of the former Bahr-al-Ghazal State, dramatic eyewitness accounts
on these practices. In the camps for displaced Dinka situated
around Wau, I have talked to people, mainly women and children
and elderly, who were in the worst shape I have ever seen human
beings in my life.
Inhuman and degrading treatment of the victims by their captors
is widespread. Many victims of the mentioned violations and
abuses are forcibly converted to Islam and are given Arabic names,
but even with that, in many instances, their treatment is not im-
Local and central authorities are all well aware of these phenom-
ena. In a number of cases the relatives of those abducted or local
chiefs are making serious efforts to retrieve their relatives, some-
times with success. Local authorities are usually contacted but do
not intervene, even if the owner is identified and his name is indi-
cated to them. In a few instances, deals were reached between the
owner or the captor and the claimants, and victims were released
for compensation in money or goods.
It is to be noted, however, that according to the Sudanese Crimi-
nal Act of 1991, abduction (Art. 161), kidnapping (Art. 162), forced
labor (Art. 163), unlawful confinement (Art. 164), and unlawful de-
tention (Art. 165) are considered crimes. I am not aware, however,
of any trial by a Sudanese court in such cases during the past
It is also to be mentioned that Sudan is for decades a signatory
party to both the 1926 Slavery Convention and the Supplementary
Convention on the Abolition of Slavery, the Slave Trade and Insti-
tutions and Practices similar to Slavery 1956.
Taking into account all the circumstances, I cannot but repeat
my conclusions from the report to the U.N. General Assembly in
November 1995, reiterated in my latest report released yesterday
The abduction of persons, mainly women and children, belonging
to racial, ethnic and religious minorities from Southern Sudan,
their subjection to the slave trade, including trafficking and sale of
children and women, slavery, servitude, forced labor and similar
practices, are taking place with the knowledge of the government
The manifest passivity of the government of Sudan in this re-
gard, after years of reporting and calls upon it by the U.N. organs
and international non-government organizations affiliated with the
United Nations and the subsequent lack of any measures to protect
Sudanese citizens from these practices lead to the conclusion that
abductions, slavery and institutions similar to slavery are carried
out by persons acting under the authority and with the tacit ap-
proval of the government of Sudan. The fact that the abductions
take place mostly in a war-affected area is to be considered as a
particularly aggravating circumstance in this case.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
(The prepared statement of Dr. Biro appears in the appendix.)
Mr. Smith. Thank you very much, Doctor.
And I would like to now ask Dr. Vigilante if he would present
STATEMENT OF KEVIN VIGILANTE, M.D., CLINICAL ASSOCIATE
PROFESSOR OF MEDICINE, BROWN UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF
Dr. Vigilante. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, Madam
Chairwoman, for having me here and for holding these hearings.
They are critically important.
Today, rather than giving extensive testimony, I am going to
show a brief video that I took when I was in Sudan approximately
12 months ago.
I am just going to say a few words by way of preface. I went as
a representative of the Puebla Institute, now part of Freedom
House, to investigate reports of slavery in the forced incarceration
of children and other reports that these children were being sent
to the battlefront.
My sources were children themselves who had escaped, parents
and families of these children, clergy and international NGO's who
worked there. And I spoke to members of the Sudanese Govern-
ment as well.
As I alluded to, I snuck a video camera into the country and in
safe houses and basements was able to gather about 6 hours' worth
of testimony of which we are only going to see a few minutes here.
And I also ventured out my last day there about 400 kilometers
into the desert to see a camp that did hold at one point 228 kids
who subsequently have disappeared. We do not know where they
By way of that introduction, perhaps we can show the tape and
then if I could make a few comments after the tape, and then re-
spond to any questions.
Mr. Smith. And please do.
And without objection, your full testimony will be made a part
of the record.
Dr. Vigilante. Of course, one of the invariable rules of the uni-
verse is that these things do not come off on the first try.
While we are waiting, maybe I can make a couple of comments.
I think that what I felt I was able to document when I was there
is there are really three forms of slavery. One comes out of the trib-
al tradition, that is exploited by the government. The government
in the 1980's armed Arab tribes quite heavily in their battle
against the black African tribes, particularly the Dinka, and cer-
tainly encouraged them to keep the spoils of war, including chil-
dren that they took in that conflict. And these children are now
enslaved in great numbers by their Arab masters.
The second version of slavery occurs directly at the hands of gov-
ernment agents, the Popular Defense Forces, in particular, who
were alluded to previously. These Muja Hadeen or warriors of the
Jihad, are poorly paid or not paid at all, and, once again, take chil-
dren and women as part of their compensation.
Dr. VIGILANTE. I apologize for the quality of the audio there. I
know it is very difficult to understand, but the point was that early
on there was testimony from a number of children who had been
taken from their parents and put in these high-security camps, and
one child said that he was slated to go off to battle, and it was only
by intervention of a military officer that he did not.
These kids are rounded up in caches, whereby a truck comes into
a marketplace and they round up all the black African-appearing
And I want to make a comment about this, because Ms. McKin-
ney asked before, what is the role of color in this whole conflict?
Because if you talk to leaders of the Sudanese Government, let me
tell you, they are very sophisticated. Turabi was educated in Ox-
ford. The Minister of Information, a fellow named Shingeti got a
Ph.D. from Boston University a few years ago.
And they really know how to talk to westerners and put the spin
on their story. And they will say to you, "Look, we're not racist.
Look, I'm black. Look at the color of my skin." And they are saying,
"Why would we be racist against other people of our own country,
who are also black?"
But Sudan is a unique racial environment. The Nile, over cen-
turies, has mixed genes from one end of the country to the other.
So that you have a gradual gradation of color from light to very
dark. And it blends almost imperceptibly. But at the extremes, you
can clearly see differences. And after a very short time there, it
was very easy for me, as a foreigner, to know who was a Dinka,
who was a Shilluk, who was a Nuer, who was from the Arab north,
by just looking.
And if I can make those types of perceptual judgments, it is easy
for the natives to do, and it did not take me long to realize that
there is a whole hierarchy in that country based on race and tribal
associations. And that the people of the South, the black Africans,
are the people who are victimized by racism and by slavery. And
I think people who deny that are not being truthful about their at-
titudes toward race in the country of Sudan.
I will just close there and be available for questions later.
(The prepared statement of Dr. Vigilante appears in the appen-
Mr. Smith. Dr. Vigilante, thank you very much for your testi-
STATEMENT OF AUGUSTINE LADO, PRESIDENT, PAX SUDANI
Mr. Lado. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and Madam Chairman,
members on the distinguished panel, my colleague members on the
panel, and the audience.
I am really very grateful that finally the issue of slavery in Mau-
ritania and Sudan has received a hearing in this institution.
Three years ago we made an informal visit to a number of Con-
gressmen's offices to cry out about this issue of slavery, we, as Pax
Sudani. And I must also say that the Sudanese have always actu-
ally been speaking out in various forums, about the fact that slav-
ery exists in their country.
The difficulties that we have faced until very recently is that we
simply have not been very successful in getting a receptive ear.
This hearing hopefully will generate a momentum for the ongoing
abolitionist movement in this country.
Now, to get right to the issue, I have produced my statement and
rather than going through the full text, I will simply overview and
provide the discussion that we have had so far in context.
I think by the time we leave here, we will not walk out contest-
ing the issue of slavery. It is a very, very clear-cut situation. And
as a Sudanese, I would like to say that this system (slavery) has
really completely ransacked and devastated families. It has de-
stroyed villages. It has destroyed ethnic groups. It has destroyed
nationalities. All in the South Sudan, in the Nuba Mountains, in
the Ingessana Hills. We are dispersed throughout the world, you
know, largely because of this issue of slavery.
The other point to make is that the connection between slavery,
the institution of slavery, the perpetrators of slavery, and the Afri-
cans who are being enslaved, has had a very long and extensive
historical antecedent and I have provided some highlights in my re-
All these African groups, whether they be Dinka or Shilluk or
Nuer, and so forth, and I come from right south of the country from
Kajo-Kaje — we do not know of any of our oral traditions that speak
to a culture of slavery. So simply to say that Africans are also in-
volved in slavery as some of the allegations that are coming forth
is simply not true. The process of enslaving has always come from
the north and continues to hit very, very forcefully and brutally
down south, and if not really stamped out, it will destroy the entire
The other point that I also want to make is that the connection
between chattel slavery and institutional forms of slavery has to be
emphasized. It has to be emphasized because it is at the institu-
tional level that the government becomes wholly responsible and
connected. You know, there are acts of sale of human beings. I can-
not emphasize it enough. The evidence has already been provided.
But the government, and actually I must say it is successive gov-
ernments over the years in Sudan have created a context that
allow for this system to flourish. And that context is revealed more
recently in the declaration of Jihad (or Islamic holy war) against
the non-Muslim in the country. But also against Muslims who sim-
ply happened to not believe in the faith of the ruling group.
And that is also reflected in the forced conversion of non-Arabs
into Arab. And that is also reflected in race. So these three factors,
collectively conspire to create an ideology that has sustained slav-
ery over the years.
And I think this is very important because we can only talk
about ending slavery if we understand it in its comprehensive con-
text. And my colleagues on the panel have already indicated in-
stances in which African Sudanese are targeted for slavery, and
the hierarchy of this slavery process. And the fact of the matter is
that, you know, if you are an Arab, a non-black Arab, who is a
Muslim, there is simply no question of slavery.
In fact, that is the enslaving group. And as the combination and
permutation proceeds, a non-Arab who is a non-Muslim, is clearly
the target for the slavery. A Muslim who is black, who happens to
live in Africa and believes in indigenous cultures — I mean in lan-
guages, is also a target of slavery. And we see that in the Nuba
Mountains where the entire region has been sealed off and it is tar-
geted for elimination.
Before I move to the recommendation, I also want to emphasize
the connection between slavery and genocide, because I think Lady
Cox brought that forth, but I also want to emphasize that.
In terms of specific acts, we know that right from the 1960's in
Sudan, there were two clear genocidal incidences. The Juba mas-
sacre and there was a massacre in Wau. And in the 1980's, 1987,
there was the Diein massacre, in which nearly 2,000 Dinka men,
women and children were killed and nearly 7,000 were captured
and sold into slavery.
And the Jubaleen massacre, a massacre in which Africans work-
ing on Arab farmlands were absolutely forced to work on Sunday,
which they, as Christians, regard as their day of rest. And they
were subjected to severe torture and massacre.
Now, all those acts of genocide have actually had a consistency
over the year in the regions. So when we talk about the current
slavery that is going on in Sudan, it is perpetuated by this psychol-
ogy, this ideology that basically makes one particular group sub-
human clearly and therefore a target of enslavement.
Now, the question then is what should be done? I think what
should be done is, we have consistently argued that the situation
now calls for much more vigorous action on the part of the world
community, and most specifically this country, because it clearly
has leadership, it clearly has the force, and it could actually have
the will. We know that the country, Sudan, has actually been listed
on the list of terrorist nations, and it is because of this institution
that Congress moved swiftly to pass a resolution to put the country
on the list of terrorist nations.
And it is with that kind of force and swiftness that we believe
that the issue of slavery should be given attention. It should be
given attention because the terrorism that the current regime is in-
volved in externally is also being actually imposed on the people in-
ternally with impunity.
And I want to just say one thing about the comprehensive sanc-
tions. There was a response by the Assistant Secretary of State this
afternoon, saying how sanctions would hurt the civilian population,
how the problem of war, you know, the situation is so complex. I
must emphasize that millions of our own people have perished over
the years. Thousands more are in conditions of slavery. How much
more suffering can the world expect of the population in order to
justify imposing comprehensive sanctions?
The other side of the matter too is that if the world remains pas-
sive and aloof and distant on the issue of sanctions, we know that
the Sudan Government cannot continue to provide the fuel, you
know, the wherewithal, the fire power, the economics, to sustain
the slavery within the country without external support.
And it is in this context that comprehensive sanctions would
really begin to address the issue of the slavery in Sudan more com-
I will end here and I look forward to answering questions.
(The prepared statement of Mr. Lado appears in the appendix.)
Mr. Smith. Thank you very much, Mr. Lado. Your comments on
sanctions I think were very well taken. And I know this particular
member supports them. I think that, until the international com-
munity gets very serious and begins linking U.N. rights with trade,
the prospects for curbing this abusive behavior are very slim in-
deed. So I think we need to put our money where our mouth is.
If it means, as we saw with apartheid, that by braving a short-term
economic deprivation we have an opportunity to eradicate over-
whelming evil, then I think that is where many of us who are very
strongly in favor of human rights and linking human rights with
trade come down. There is a short-term pain. There is no doubt
about it, for some. So I appreciate your comments.
In looking over the recommendations that you all have made —
and, Dr. Biro, I know that based on what I have been reading
about what you have been doing — slavery and the abuses have got-
ten worse since your mandate was established in 1993.
And I wonder if you could tell us, first, what has been the reac-
tion by the international community? I remember my disappoint-
ment, when I was in Geneva working with our then Ambassador
Armando Valladores on human rights matters, at the seeming in-
difference. Some in the international community mouthed the
words, but when it came down to actually doing something, they
preferred endless dialog with the offending nation as opposed to
some significant action.
What has been your response when you make your reports vis-
a-vis Sudan and atrocities being committed there, the slavery. How
does the international community respond to the reports that you
Dr. Biro. You are perfectly right, Mr. Chairman. Since I am
dealing with this mandate, the situation is continuously deteriorat-
ing, not only with regard to slavery and similar practices, but the
overall situation, regarding human rights.
There are so far six reports on the situation, which I have pre-
sented to the Commission on Human Rights and to the General As-
sembly. There have been five resolutions adopted following the de-
bate on these reports; three by the General Assembly and two by
the Commission on Human Rights. My conclusions and rec-
ommendations were incorporated into these resolutions.
These conclusions and recommendations partly are addressed to
the government of Sudan and partly to the international commu-
nity. My recommendations and the calls upon the government of
Sudan by the international community are so far totally ineffective.
There is a complete disregard on behalf of the government of
Sudan to any international criticism, comment, and recommenda-
tion made in order to improve the situation.
A practical step, if I may say so, was undertaken last March
when the Commission adopted one of my recommendations regard-
ing the placement of full-time human rights monitors in such loca-
tions as would facilitate an improved flow of information.
The General Assembly resolution from November 1995 supported
fully the Commission on Human Rights Resolution. Unfortunately
nothing happened until this moment. For bureaucratic reasons, for
financial reasons, I do not know. I cannot find out. The fact is that
in one year we were not able to advance at all in implementing this
I would like to emphasize that this is a modest operation, a
small-scale operation. We would place three monitors only in some
of the neighboring countries where there are many Sudanese refu-
gees, and there is a continuous flow of Sudanese refugees coming
out from Sudan — for the purpose of reporting on what is happen-
ing, gathering information, reports, et cetera.
According to my experience, the presence of U.N. experts, em-
ployees, dealing with human rights and humanitarian questions in
the South regarding other parties to the conflict than the govern-
ment of Sudan has a beneficial role, a preventive role. For instance,
the use of child soldiers was characteristic until 1993-1994 by the
SPLA in the South.
Now, after reporting continuously on this phenomena, SPLA
leaders signed last year an agreement containing a unilateral un-
dertaking with the Operation Life Line Sudan and UNICEF work-
ing in Nairobi through which undertaking among others they ex-
pressed the wish to abide by the provisions of convention on the
rights of the child.
As one practical consequence of this unilateral undertaking,
UNICEF is getting involved in the family reunification process, of
unaccompanied minors in the South; some 800 children reportedly
have been reunited during the past few months with their families.
The other scope of this human rights field monitoring operation
was to build up for the future the framework of a technical assist-
ance operation program, including human rights training pro-
grams, for example, which is needed, and requested by many peo-
ple in southern Sudan.
So these are only a few aspects which are really practical, and
refer to action very much needed, and which I think it would work
very efficiently, but so far we are blocked and we cannot start this
operation, as I said before, for bureaucratic reasons.
The situation, however, in some aspects, is worsening. According
to a recent report, which I received a few weeks before, and in-
cludes the results of research done in November/December 1995, in
20 camps for displaced persons in Kordofan area and the Nuba
Mountains, a number of 9,034 children are being kept in these
camps and are subjected to enforced Islamization.
And this is only one report on one particular area, but there are
many other reports from Southern Sudan and the North, indicating
I hope that this monitoring activity would bring some practical
results. It would be outside the scope of my mandate to go further
and to propose in my reports at least sanctions, embargo, et cetera.
I would stay with this monitoring operation and I would like to
underline again the efficiency and the need for this operation.
Mr. Smith. I have some additional questions, but I would like to
yield to Dr. Vigilante.
Dr. Vigilante. Well, there are a number of recommendations
that Freedom House would like to put forward if I could read them
into the record.
Mr. Smith. That would be fine.
Dr. Vigilante. We feel the President should ensure that a direc-
tive is immediately issued to the Immigration and Naturalization
Service acknowledging mounting persecution against Christians
and non-Muslims in Sudan as well as other countries, and instruct-
ing INS officers to process the claims of escapees from such perse-
cution with priority and diligence.
The INS has shown a general indifference toward Christians flee-
ing Sudan or seeking asylum because of religious persecution. A
Sudanese Catholic, who I will name M for his own safety, has been
detained in the United States for the last 3 years while his case
is being processed. Mr. M worked with aid workers, missionaries,
and particularly with Mr. Mark Genner, who is a translator in
When Sudanese authorities executed Mark Genner in 1992,
Catholic Bishop Paride Taban advised Mr. M that his life was in
danger and should flee Sudan. An INS court has denied Mr. M's
request for asylum partly based on his failure to explain the doc-
trine of tran substantial on. He is currently appealing this decision.
That this Christian should be encountering such difficulties in ob-
taining asylum in the United States is an outrageous injustice.
Second, U.N. Ambassador Madeleine Albright, apropos of what
Dr. Biro was saying, should closely monitor and press for the effec-
tive implementation of a potentially important new program in
Sudan by the U.N. children's agency, UNICEF. Under inter-
national pressure from the publication of the Puebla Report and
the Special Rapporteur's findings, Sudan allowed UNICEF to initi-
ate last fall a family reunification program for boys who had been
abducted and detained in the cultural cleansing camps for juveniles
described in my testimony.
UNICEF has experienced many delays in proceeding with the
program and is confining its work to only one camp. The United
States should ensure that UNICEPs work in this regard is thor-
ough and expedient and work to expand the project to retrieving
and reuniting with their families sold into slavery.
Last, the Administration should ensure that the issue of slavery
of the basic type practiced in Sudan today is raised at all future
international and U.N. forums where the protection of women, chil-
dren and minorities is raised.
Last fall, at the U.N. Fourth World Women's Conference held in
Beijing, the Administration passed by an important opportunity for
the issue of slavery in Sudan to be addressed. Though women are
one of the principal victims of the slave trade in tissue of discus-
sion or even a key word in the document adopted at the World Con-
ference on Women. In over 120 pages of the Platform for Action,
slavery is only referred to as sexual slavery; nothing was men-
tioned concerning the very real slave trade that takes place in
Mr. Smith. Thank you very much.
Just for the record, this subcommittee has jurisdiction over the
refugee budgets. Just yesterday we passed a conference report and
we worked nard over the last year to ensure that an adequate
amount of money was authorized, and we have also worked with
the appropriators. It is an essentially straight line from last year.
When everything else is going down, we got a modest increase to
$671 million for refugees.
I greatly fear that this Administration, and some in Congress on
both sides of the aisle, are looking to close our doors to honest refu-
gees. It does not surprise me one iota because we have found that
the Administration has shown an insensitivity to the Sudanese
Christians who are being persecuted, but we have found that to be
regrettably part and parcel of the way this Administration, and
perhaps the previous ones as well, have treated Christians and oth-
ers who are fleeing religious persecution.
Much of yesterday's bill was filled with important directives and
policy statements on refugee policy because this Administration
and some Democrats and Republicans want to close our doors.
We have a major challenge facing us on the immigration bill.
Some would like to cap refugees at 50,000, which would be an ab-
surdity when so many people are seeking freedom.
So we will work on that, and I thank you for this recommenda-
Dr. Vigilante. Thank you for your work.
Mr. Smith. Congressman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, if you could re-
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. Thank you.
Baroness, I have a few questions for you, but first I would like
to thank you for the testimony that we have heard here today. I
think it is very important for all of the Congress to know the sad
situation that is going on, reality that the major media has really
ignored for far too long, and we thank you for having the courage
to bring it to light here.
Baroness, in your testimony, you had stated that U.N. organiza-
tions operate in places like Sudan only with the permission of the
Do you think that the United States and the United Kingdom
should seek a change in that policy? And if you could give us some
insight into that.
Baroness Cox. Thank you very much, I think this is a very im-
portant challenge that confronts nations such as our own.
You are probably aware that it is the principles on which major
aid organizations such as the United Nations, UNHCR, UNICEF,
the International Committee of Red Cross operate, that they can,
according to their principles, only go to areas with the permission
of a sovereign government. That means when you have sovereign
governments that are repressing an ethnic or religious minority,
then they do not give those invitations and those people are en-
tirely cut off, not only from aid but also from the advocacy that
goes with the aid.
Now, in Sudan, that has two, at least two, very serious con-
sequences. One is that in those areas, for example, in Southern
Sudan, where the regime designates certain air strips as no-go
areas, and also the Nuba Mountains. The people there are often
displaced by the war, often their crops have been burnt, and they
are suffering from starvation. And in the places where we go and
camp, are literally dying like flies of hunger and disease. You
know, people would die in front of our eyes. In those villages, we
found people already dead, or the survivors just eating grass to
stop the cramps in their stomach from hunger. Many are dying of
a treatable disease with no medicines available.
Very often they may be forced off their land, as part of the poli-
tics of hunger. And tney may be driven for the sake of their chil-
dren, to government garrisons or to the peace camps in the North
in order just to get the means of survival.
Now, that fits with the regime's policy of enforced Islamization
and also sometimes enforced Arabization because conditions for re-
ceiving the aid which they need to survive include renouncing their
Christian names, and their religion and adopting Muslim names,
Muslim practices. Also sometimes they are forced to have sexual
relationships with the Arab soldiers or Arab owners, which, of
course, is part of the ethnic assault on their African identity.
Now, one of the things that concerns me about the policies which
we in the West have been working with is that we have no account-
ability from the point of view of the money which we give toward
aid organizations. Thus if we allow aid which we fund from Britain
and from the United States to be used by the government it ought
not to be intercepted and used by Arabic and Muslim aid organiza-
tions which are tools of the government; otherwise we are actually
condoning or conniving with this policy.
We have been in the camps, for example, where we have seen aid
which originated from Western donor organizations having been
intercepted and abused in this way.
I would like to emphasize the principle of accountability that if
we give money, if we give aid in kind, or if NGO's do so, then we
should see it right through to the feeding center, we should see it
right through to the clinic, and not allow it to be taken and used
by other intermediate aid organizations.
So the accountability is crucial and also I would emphasize we
should be challenging the principle of no-go areas which lead to
starvation and lead to displacement.
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. You had mentioned that some of those ship-
ments of humanitarian goods are stopped and diverted.
What are some of the other problems and obstacles that humani-
tarian aid organizations have encountered in trying to provide re-
lief in Southern Sudan?
Baroness Cox. Well, the main problem is this problem of access
to the areas. Clearly there are logistical problems in many parts
which are created by natural conditions of access in terms of
weather during the rainy season, reaching people in need and so
But I think those problems could be overcome now. I think the
SPLM/A has a very administrative system in areas within the
South. If access was allowed to all the areas where the people are
in need, where there are air strips, where there are roads, and
could reach all in need, it would greatly reduce both the displace-
ment and also the deaths from starvation and treatable disease.
Just one other point. This policy of no-go areas imposed by the
regime actually increases the enormous numbers dying of starva-
tion and disease because if you have an area which is an open area,
and people from the surrounding areas know that there is aid,
medicine, food available there, they will come in order to get what
they need to survive, and then it suddenly goes off the accepted list
ana becomes a no-go area. Many of those people are just stranded.
Very often they are too weak to go back to their original land and
so they just die where they are.
And so that is another aspect of this no-go area that has got to
be challenged by nations such as our own.
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. Did you see the welcoming committee that
you had in front of the Longworth Building this afternoon, chant-
ing your name?
Baroness Cox. No.
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. Do you get those kinds of receptions? Do you
know of protests from organized groups against your humanitarian
mission in Sudan?
Baroness Cox. Well, one of the problems perhaps of going to
areas which are denied access by sovereign regimes is you are not
the most popular person with the sovereign regime. But on the
other hand, you have the great privilege of being with people who
are in desperate situations and one of the — if you can call it — the
most poignant aspects of our work is when we go to those no-go
areas and people come to you as you arrive and they say, "We're
go grateful you've come. We thought the world had forgotten us."
And indeed the world had forgotten them. It is one reason why we
are very grateful to you for holding this hearing here this afternoon
that we can speak about some of those people who are so forgotten
and so neglected.
Ms. Ros-Lehtenen. Well, we thank you and we thank all of the
panelists who appeared before us for telling the world what we all
need to hear and see, even though we want to ignore it and we
want to not see it and we want to not hear it. It is there and we
have the power to help those people. I hope that we will.
We thank you for all the good work that all of you have done.
Mr. Smith. Mr. Wolf.
Mr. Wolf. I do not have any questions. I want to thank both of
you, the two chairmen, Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who has
been a hero on these issues, and I am pleased that you are involved
and Congressman Smith, who I have traveled with to a number of
places; to have both of you doing this hearing is very, -very impres-
sive. I am more optimistic today than I have been any other time
because we have had a hard time getting the Congress to really
focus. You have had a good hearing. Both of the panels have been
excellent. So I want to tnank both of you.
I want to thank the previous panel. I do not know if they are still
here. I also want to thank this panel, Mr. Lado, Dr. Vigilante, for
taking the time. Dr. Biro, for your courageous work. Baroness Cox,
who I have the greatest respect for. All of your good work. CSI,
Christian Solidarity International, for your good work for sponsor-
ing this. Freedom House for the good effort because if it were not
for your two groups, frankly I do not know that very much would
Last, I want to go on record as saying I am very disappointed
in the Clinton administration, big hat, no cattle, talk a lot of activ-
ity on this thing, do fundamentally almost nothing. And I am hope-
ful and prayfulthat if there is a change in the Administration, I
would hope that this Administration will not wait until there is a
change, would take some action with regard to this issue. But I
want to pledge that if President Dole is elected, one of the first
times I am going to ask to meet with him and ask Ileana and Chris
Smith to go with me, whereby we talk to Mr. Dole on this issue
so that if there is a Dole administration that his State Department
will be aggressive on this issue. If there is not a Dole administra-
tion and it is Clinton again, then I hope whoever he brings in to
this State Department is aggressive on this issue. I think Mr. Lado
said it right. How many times do we have to wait, more people
dying, more people in prison and more people in slavery. I mean
the tnought of slavery in Mauritania and Sudan in modern day, it
is hard to even get people to believe that because they thought that
happened years and years ago.
So I am committed to staying with this issue as long as I can
and the fact that we have two new people that are involved I ap-
preciate it very much. And frankly, and I mean this quite seriously,
if Dole is elected president, the first meeting that I ask to speak
with him is to speak with him on this issue. And I know that Mr.
Dole is very, very sensitive. He has been sensitive to the Arme-
nians and in Negorokarabak. He has been sensitive in the Bosnia
thing. He has been sensitive with regard to Cuba. And I know he
will be sensitive on this issue.
Again, I thank you very much. I thank the chairman. I thank
Mr. Smith. Thank you, Congressman Wolf.
Mr. Wolf really has been a leader on issues of human rights, par-
ticularly in Sudan and Ethiopia. He was one of the few who actu-
ally went there during some of the famines, and he has been a con-
science for the Congress.. And I do thank him for his work.
I have a question for you, Mr. Lado, on your call to action in one
of your specific recommendations.
One of the answers arrived at rather belatedly with regard to
Bosnia was that when the two factions — actually three factions —
decided they would not get along, the international community im-
posed partitioning along ethnic lines. Now, some would argue that
that is a reward, particularly to the Serbs, for the terrible fruit of
their ethnic cleansing, which was a despicable reminder of what
the Nazis did. And you are recommending partitioning as a way of
providing a safe haven for the Southern Sudanese.
How has that call been received? I was wondering if the other
panelists might want to respond to that as well. Is it perhaps the
only way of projecting the South from this cultural imperialism in
the imposition of the Muslim religion on them?
Mr. Lado. Well, I would say in terms of reception, the regional
mediating organization, IGADD, has actually encoded the principle
of self-determination for the people of South Sudan, the Nuba
Mountains and the Ingessana Hills, as one of the most fundamen-
tal bases upon which a long-lasting peace and justice in Sudan can
actually be accomplished.
Our call for a partitioning of the country is a way of ensuring a
governance mechanism which ensures that future slavery will not
take place in that nation. It is motivated by the fact that, as I had
indicated in my statement, in my presentation before, slavery has
always been the underpinning cause for the wars in Sudan. And
it has always dated back to the Arab invasion into the country.
And as I said, the match of this war and imperialism has actu-
ally been one way, you know, down south. And so the call really
in one respect is self-preservation. First, the dignity of the people
who are targeted for slavery is completely jeopardized and second,
there is genocide in the very overt and in a covert way, covert in
the sense of cultural genocide.
And so, you know, our call is motivated by the fact that slavery
existed in historical times, during imperialism and colonialism. It
existed in successive Arab regimes, you know. It is spreading in the
present regime at an alarming rate, as I indicated in the testimony.
And therefore we believe that a call for a partitioning of the
country would actually at least deliver the people of those regions
out of bondage.
The international community still needs to be sensitized to this
Mr. Smith. Would it take a peacekeeping force to establish this
Mr Lado. Well, I think- that first this government, the Congress,
would continue to support the regional initiative i.e. the IGADD be-
cause the call for self-determination is, as I indicated, included in
that (IGADD Declaration of Principles), and that since it is the re-
gional mediating body of Africans, it is a very genuine and noble
cause. And we believe that through that process some good may ac-
tually come. _
However if as it has been shown by the Sudanese Government
in the past that they have been very intransigent (if it is a pariah
state) and that they are willing to do anything with impunity, it
peace efforts fail through those regional mechanisms, then we had
indicated in our earlier recommendation that a peacekeeping body,
an international body, would have to get into Sudan to deliver the
people from bondage. Just as in the case of Somalia, you know.
Mr. Smith. Baroness Cox.
Baroness Cox. Thank you. Let me just add very quickly to that
and support it, but just to say that in my recommendations, I think
it would be very helpful if the international community supported
the principles of the IGADD initiative, which include the principle
of self-determination. And also it would be very helpful if the inter-
national community supported the Sudanese democratic opposition
groups And they come together under the umbrella of the JNDA
and the NDA has already agreed on a program for self-determina-
tion to be decided by the peoples of Sudan themselves after a 4-
ye So I think really it is for the peoples of Sudan to decide that fu-
ture for themselves and for us to support them in their own demo-
cratic programs toward that decision
Dr Vigilante. I think that the IGADD agreements are really
the foundation for progress in terms of self-determination. You
know it is hard to know how long this current regime is viable.
It does not have large popular support of the country and in some
ways things seem to be crumbling around them and yet you know
they are durable. And when they are gone, it is hard to know what
will follow, whether things will be better or not.
So I am reluctant to blankly advocate partitioning, but 1 think
at least a dialog based around self-determination is the kind of dia-
log that should go forward.
Mr. Smith. Dr. Biro.
Dr Biro. The support and the call for a peaceful and democratic
dialog has been constantly one of my recommendations, and I was
calling also for support from the international community for this
process. But on the other hand I fully agree with Baroness Cox
Mr. Smith. What are the estimates on the number of children
who are in these camps being brainwashed? How long do they nor-
mally stay in a camp? Nine thousand was one estimate that I think
was offered earlier. And when UNICEF was able to retrieve some
of these children, how long had those kids been in? I mean did they
get some long-term internees, or is it something that happens over-
night? , , r i.1.
Dr BlRO It is very difficult to know because the nature of those
camps differs from case to case. There is, for instance one camp
for children in Soba, which is not far from Khartoum which seems
to be like a transition camp mainly for children who are rounded
up from the streets of Khartoum— some kids are street kids but
some of these children are living with their families. They are
taken first to this camp in Soba and they may be there for a num-
ber of weeks, and then some of them are sent to other camps in
a remote part of the country, like the one I visited in Abu Dhom
100 miles north of Khartoum.
Dr. Vigilante. And, you know, there are various estimates of
how many camps there are, from orders of magnitude of scores of
camps to hundreds of camps. And they vary in different sizes And
they come in and go out of existence in a fairly fluid way The par-
ticular one that I went to was empty at the moment. But clear
there were guards there, so they had plans for it for the future
But two kids that I know that were in a camp, when retrieved
by their mother through very persistent activity, they were wearing
the damana, which is the traditional garb of the PDF They had
numbers on them. And one child's number was 4,000 something
something, something. & '
So, you know, does that indicate that there were 4 000 kids
through that one camp? It is hard to know, but conservative esti-
mates are many tens of thousands of children are involved
Mr. Smith. Dr. Biro.
Dr. Biro. Regarding the number, it is difficult indeed to estimate
•ifi Jfr number of children in these camps, but it is not impos-
sible. My estimate is that the number is higher than 10 000
Mr. Smith. Than 10,000?
Dr. Biro. Than 10,000. It is higher.
Mr. Smith. No, I said tens of thousands. Many tens of thousands
Dr. Biro. It is higher than lp,000. This is a very careful esti-
Mr. Smith. Boys and girls?
Dr. Biro. I am sorry?
Mr. Smith. Boys and girls?
Dr. Brno. There are separate camps for boys and separate for
Mr. Smith. Mostly boys though?
Dr. Biro. Mainly boys. Regarding the period spent by a child in
a camp, the official response from the government of Sudan which
I received when I asked this question, was 1 year: "These children
are kept 1 year and are given vocational training," it was stated
But no response regarding what happens after. Persistent reports
indicate that children between the ages of 10 and 15 are sent to
the battlefield after a short training period. Whereas I was told by
sources from the South, young men in the Sudanese army are sim-
ply cannon fodder because they are virtually untrained.
So the existence of some of these camps for children is acknowl-
edged, or was acknowledged before by the government, but there
is a practice of closing a few camps when myself or human rights
groups are reporting on specific camps, found out in some cases
that some camps were closed down, but other camps are opened in
other places. This is what I know.
Mr. Smith. Do we have any evidence that torture is used 9 In the
video, we saw kids being hit with what looked like some kind of
Dr. Bmo. I would say rather harsh punishment. Solitary confine-
ment, punishments as used in the military — lashing, for instance —
is routinely practiced.
Mr. Smith. Do any kids die?
Dr. Vigilante. I have reports of kids dying in camps, yes. Yes,
I do have reports of two children dying in a camp in Dordip. And
the treatment is apparently extremely harsh. I talked to a kid and
his father, and beatings were a regular occurrence. Malnourished.
Cold. Not very much sleep at night.
Plus going under the very real psychological trauma of being
stripped of your name and given a new identity, cultural identity.
And then disappearing.
Mr. Smith. But does it last? I mean here are kids that have been
ripped away from their parents.
Dr. Vigilante. Right.
Mr. Smith. Thev may have a strong faith in Christ, for example.
Do they act as if they are cooperating inwardly or is the brain-
washing so complete that they really do become another person?
Dr. Biro. It is a very strong ideological indoctrination, religious
teaching, together with military training.
Mr. Smith. Do they turn their kids against their parents?
Dr. Vigilante. Well, you know, one thing you have to realize.
This is a very primitive place where things are not done with great
uniformity or efficiency. So you may find one environment that is
run a certain way and another one tnat is very different, depending
on who happens to be there.
I think some of the children that I interviewed who came back,
who got out, I would say they kind of went along and survived, just
went along to get along, but reverted to their normal selves when
they got back. But some of the kids were not so fortunate as to get
Mr. Smith. Baroness Cox.
Baroness Cox. Just one variation on the theme of maltreatment
of children. Not so much the children taken to the camps, but chil-
dren put into chattel slavery. Our estimate of women and children
from Southern Sudan in chattel slavery is in tens of thousands. We
have had evidence from some of the children who have been taken
and enslaved in that way, and they were used for a variety of pur-
poses. It is slave labor. They are often maltreated. They are often
given hardly enough to survive on in terms of food and nourish-
ment. They are beaten. They may be used for domestic labor, espe-
cially girls, but they are also, even from the age of nine upwards,
used as concubines. The boys are often used to look after cattle or
to work in pretty harsh conditions in agricultural labor, or slave
Many of these again are also rooted out from their basic Chris-
tian tradition and background. They lose their Christian names
and are given Muslim names, and forced to adopt Muslim prac-
tices. We have quite a few case studies in the testimony which we
have left with you which described the suffering of some of these
children who have managed to escape.
So I think there are two variations on the theme of maltreatment
of children. Those who are used in the camps, may be used for mili-
tary purposes and to fight against their own people in the South.
Those are obviously boys. And both boys and girls are used as chat-
Mr. Smith. Has the Khartoum Government acceded to the Con-
vention on the Rights of the Child?
Dr. Vigilante. They signed it, yes.
Baroness Cox. Oh, yes.
Mr. Smith. How then is that enforced? I mean here it seems
Dr. Vigilante. Total hypocrisy. It is total hypocrisy. I mean, you
know, there are different kinds of camps there. You know, when I
went, and I pressed this issue with the Minister of Information
there — and he said, "Yes, well, of course we have camps for dis-
placed people, and they are out in the outskirts of Khartoum. And
you can go visit them." And you can go visit those camps. There
are hundreds of thousands of people in the outskirts of Khartoum
living in the most absolute squalor that you can imagine. And you
can get into those camps. That is where the NGO's work.
But these other camps that we are referencing right now are
high-security camps in remote areas that you cannot get to except
under the most extraordinary circumstances, and I think there was
a presumption of guilt that there is something to hide. And they
will not admit to the existence of — they would not admit it to me
when I pressed the Minister of Information about these camps. He
said, "No, no, no, no, no. We don't have those kinds. We have some
vocational training schools where we try to get kids," but it does
not jive with the evidence.
Mr. Smith. Yes.
Mr. Lado. Yes, I mean to include one suggestion, a recommenda-
tion for the record, and that is that when I went through the re-
search on this whole issue of anti-slavery movement, one of the
foremost people in the movement, Greenidge, had indicated back in
1954 that in the whole campaign against slavery, he realized (and
the movement realized), that the hardest area to crack of the world
and one yet to convince is the Arab world.
There has been very critical evidence that the people, our people,
some of them were actually sold into slavery in Libya, Saudi Ara-
bia and other parts of the Arab world. And so I think that one of
the recommendations would be for the international community to
fully investigate each allegation of slavery in the Arab world and
bring an action in the United Nations.
Because, you know, as much as in this country, for instance, the
one way to combat drugs and cocaine has always been to go to the
supplier, the source, and to Latin America or whoever is supplying,
and try to cut it off. And we believe that once that evidence is
found in the Arab world, that has been providing the funding and
the wherewithal to sustain this issue of slavery, and indeed the
international community takes action, that really we will not be
speaking here today, and we probably will not be speaking about
slavery in Africa in the future.
Mr. Smith. Would you support or think it would be advisable if
Justice Goldstone's mandate were expanded to include right now
Rwanda and Bosnia? War crimes are his focus. Would this be an
appropriate area for a tribunal investigation?
Mr. Lado. Precisely.
Mr. Smith. You would think that would be a
Dr. Vigilante. Concur.
Dr. Biro. As far as I am aware, there is an open-ended working
froup to be set up soon in the U.N. system trying to elaborate a
raft proposal regarding the creation of a permanent court, a per-
manent international court of justice regarding crimes against hu-
Mr. Lado. I think the tribunal would be particularly important
in the case of Sudan because of the genocidal side, you know, of
the slavery that, as I indicated, it has to do not just with acts, indi-
vidual cases of sale of people, but it has had to do with wiping out
an entire village, entire community, and ethnic groups. And so in-
dividuals who have been foremost connected with such acts of geno-
cide need to be brought to trial.
Mr. Smith. Is there anything else you would like to add? I am
pretty much out of questions.
Baroness Cox. I would like to make one general point, if I might.
I think that maybe countries such as your own and my own have
had certain reservations about criticizing the regime of Khartoum
because we are afraid of being labeled anti-Islamic. I think we need
to blow that smoke screen right away. The regime in Khartoum is
persecuting Muslims in its own land. For example, it has an-
nounced a jihad against the peoples of the Nuba Mountains who
are Christian, Muslim and Animist. So it has announced a jihad to
some extent against its own people and is carrying out this attempt
at genocide of people in the Nuba Mountains.
We were also working earlier this year with the Beja people who
come from Northern Sudan. They are Muslim people. They are ex-
ceedingly intense in their criticisms and in their hatred of the
present fundamentalist Islamic regime in Khartoum.
So I think we in the West who may be worried about being criti-
cized for being anti-Islamic need to make these distinctions be-
tween a fundamentalist Islamic regime, which is using that as an
ideology to perpetrate its political policies and its policies of geno-
cide and barbarities which we documented and not be afraid of that
smoke screen that is put up by them as saying that we are actually
anti-Islamic. It has nothing to do with that. It is a straightforward
violation of human rights by a regime which is condemned from the
very systematic and consistent evidence you have heard this after-
Mr. Lado. I just wanted to add one thing. I guess in the manner
of a pitch kind of thing for the members of the audience.
And that is that there is an emerging abolitionist movement in
this country and abroad, you know, in Europe and even in Canada,
represented by various members on the panels.
Various groups are very actively and vigorously working on this
issue of slavery, you know, in Sudan and in Mauritania. Pax
Sudani, we have been focused on the issue of slavery. We recently
formed a coalition with Mauritania, which is now CASMAS. The
CSI has also been very foremost. And so I believe that the mem-
bers of the public would actually help us better in fighting this
issue by joining hands and contacting us.
I have the address of Pax Sudani and contacts and so forth on
the statement, but I would also be happy to take addresses and so
And the other, in connection with that, we plan to hold meetings
and symposia and rallies to try to sensitize the various commu-
nities in this country at the grass root level and all I am asking
at this point is to have continued relationships with individual
members in this organization so that, if for instance, we would like
to invite a member for a panel speaker, and so forth, that at least
we would have favorable attention.
Mr. Smith. Thank you. And, Doctor, you might want to give your
number to the cameras and maybe they will carry it. Your phone
number. Give your phone number.
Mr. Lado. OK. The phone number is Area Code (216) 687^4731.
That is basically my office number at Cleveland, but I will use it
for this whole effort.
Mr. Smith. I would like to thank this panel for your tremendous
testimony. It is compelling. We will make this available to the
widest number of members, some who have been here and many
others who are not. Most importantly, it energizes our organization
to hopefully not just redouble but quadruple our efforts on behalf
of those who are suffering the unspeakable cruelty of slavery and
other human rights abuses.
It also gives additional fire power to our organization when it
comes to refugees. I, again, continue to be appalled at the Adminis-
tration's view that we just ought to close the doors and deny these
genuine refugees their ability to find safe haven here. So that is
something that we now have additional ammunition for.
Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights, John Shattuck,
will soon be before our Subcommittee on International Operations
and Human Rights to speak on the Country Reports on Human
Rights Practices. It will be within about 2 weeks or so. This gives
us additional information. His representatives are here and I hope
he comes prepared to talk about Mauritania and Sudan at great
length, because he will be quizzed at great length about those is-
And the bottom line, as Mr. Wolf said, is that regardless of who
wins this presidency, if we are still here, Mr. Wolf and I and others
will continue to raise this issue in Congress to the best of our abili-
ties. I have traveled with CSI. I can tell you that they do a mar-
velous job. I have been to Romania and to China with CSI in the
past so it is good to have you here testifying.
And I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your
great testimony. We are going to act on it.
Baroness Cox. Thank you.
Dr. Vigilante. Thank you.
Mr. Smith. This hearing is adjourned.
(Whereupon, at 6:17 p.m., the subcommittee was adjourned, to
reconvene subject to the call of the chair.)
Opening Statement, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Chair
Subcommittee on Africa
Committee on International Relations
Hearing on Slavery in Mauritania and Sudan
March 13, 1996
Thank you, Chris. I am glad our two subcommittees have been able to work
together to bring public attention to the persistent reports that slavery continues to exist
in Mauritania and Sudan.
"Slavery"! What a shocking topic for a Congressional hearing in the year 1996!
We think about slavery as something that we read about in history class.
Something that existed back in distant past - something that belongs to a different era.
J~he topic is one that you think of as a subject for a historians' society meeting, rather
'than a human rights issue of the 1990s.
And yet, we are told that slavery still exists and that human beings are still being
bought and sold in Sudan and Mauritania.
If slavery exists in these countries, then we must do everything in our power to
bring it to an end. There can be no tolerance for slavery anywhere in the world.
The United Nations reported over a year ago that there is information that shows
a massive increase in the number of cases of slavery, forced servitude, slave trading
and forced labor in Sudan.
If there is slavery in Sudan, then there ought to be international action - effective
international action - to impose severe and universal sanctions against Sudan.
We should impose a broad range of sanctions against Sudan or against any other
country that tolerates slavery or that engages in slave trading.
With regard to Mauritania, the State Department's human rights report seems to
have changed dramatically from last year. For instance, last year's human rights report
on Mauritania reported that with regard to the camps for Malian refugees in Mauritania,
quote "informed estimates are that 10 percent of the 80,000 refugees in campaigns are
This year's report says nothing whatsoever about those slaves -- as if they simply
Similarly, the Department's report states that quote "tens of thousands of persons
whose ancestors were slaves still occupy positions of servitude" unquote. I do not
understand the State Department's distinction between being a slave and occupying a
position of servitude.
To say, as this year's human rights report does, that these people remain in
servitude because of their lack of knowledge about their own status is to confirm that
they are still slaves and are treated as slaves by their masters.
This is an important issue and one that deserves Congressional action.
I look forward to hearing from the Clinton Administration and from the
distinguished panel of experts that have been invited to share their expertise with us.
SLAVERY IN MAURITANIA AND SUDAN
WILLIAM H. TWADDELL,
DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE
FOR AFRICAN AFFAIRS
HOUSE COMMITTEE ON INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
SUBCOMMITTEE ON INTERNATIONAL OPERATIONS & HUMAN RIGHTS
SUBCOMMITTEE ON AFRICA
MARCH 13, 1996
Mr. Chairman and Madam Chairman, I am here today to discuss
with you the extent of our knowledge about a question of great
concern to all who are interested in freedom and human
dignity: the question of slavery today in Mauritania and
Sudan. Our current views on this issue were submitted to the
Congress last week in our Country Reports on Human Rights
Practices for 1995 . The following is a more expanded review of
the situation in these two countries.
Slavery at the Time of Independence, 1960
Slavery existed for centuries in Mauritania and was a
common practice throughout North and West Africa, including
nomadic desert tribesmen and agricultural and herding families
living north, south and east of the Senegal River. When
Mauritania became independent in 1960, it proclaimed a
constitution which stated that "men are born free and equal
before the law. "
At the time of independence, Mauritania was estimated to
have 1.5 to 1.8 million inhabitants. It was thought to consist
of one-third ethnic Maures, one-third mixed Maure-black or
racially black people most of whom were legally slaves or
descendants of slaves, and one-third members of four black
ethnic groups--Halpulaar , Soninke, Wolof and Bambara. While
there have never been genuinely reliable statistics on
Mauritania, what is more important than the numbers is the fact
that it has never been disputed that slavery was still
practiced in Mauritania at the time of independence. Although
Mauritania became a French colony in 1920, French authorities
had never supplanted traditional legal codes which permitted
slavery. Some writers have spoken of "degrees" of slavery.
Some slaves lived with their masters and were totally subject
to their will. Others, sometimes called "part-slaves" held a
status somewhat like that of serfs in Europe in the Middle
Ages, living in their own dwellings, often in villages, but
providing herding or tilling work to a master. There were also
former slaves who had obtained their freedom in various ways,
but who held only a very low social status and were often the
victims of discrimination.
In 1961, upon its admission to the United Nations, the
Government of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania subscribed to
the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. During the early
years of independence, however, the government of Mauritania
gave priority to building the basic infrastructure of the new
state, including its government and economy, rather than
systematic measures aimed at abolishing the practice of slavery.
In 1980, after a series of protests by slaves and ex-slaves
in several cities, Chief of State Haidallah began a campaign to
rid the country of slavery entirely. This campaign included
the government decree of July 5, 1980, which declared the
emancipation of slaves.
Thus, from a formal point of view, there is no question
that citizens of Mauritania are now both constitutionally and
legally free. What is at question today is whether these
constitutional and legal guaranties have been fully implemented
throughout Mauritanian society.
This is a harder question to answer unequivocally, but it
is one to which the United States has devoted considerable
attention over the last 16 years. In our search for evidence
on this question, we have noted the following measures
undertaken by the Mauritanian government:
--government ordinances and regulations have been
promulgated calling for the enforcement of the decree of 1980.
--the government radio has been used to broadcast news of
the emancipation of the slaves, and to acquaint former slaves
with their rights.
--beginning in the early 1980s, and continuing into the
1990s, there were a number of cases in which judges who failed
to apply the new law were sanctioned or removed from the bench.
--a non-governmental organization called El Hor ("The Free
Man"), formed in 1978 by former slaves, has been allowed to
function throughout this time, working to publicize liberation,
and to assist former slaves in their problems in dealing with
their former masters. The creation of two additional
organizations in 1995 ( "SOS-Esclaves" and "The National
Committee for the Struggle Against the Vestiges of Slavery in
Mauritania") demonstrates both that the social consequences of
centuries of slavery continue to be felt, but also shows that
the government is not posing obstacles to actions seeking to
remedy this deplorable heritage.
--a law adopted in 1983 specifically allows former slaves
to own land or other real property.
--beginning in 1984, former slaves have been appointed to
high positions in the Mauritanian government, including
--outside organizations have been invited to Mauritania, or
allowed to come at their own request, to investigate the
question of slavery. These include:
--The U.N. Economic and Social Council's Subcommission
on Discriminatory Measures and the Protection of
Minorities (1982, 1984, 1986).
--The Human Rights Group of Edinburgh, Scotland
--Amnesty International (1987)
--The International Commission of Jurists (1988)
--The Chairman of the African Jurists Association
--The International Labor Organization (1992)
--A French human rights group, Agir Ensemble Pour les
Droits de 1 ' Homme (1994)
--The International Federation for Human Rights
— The Anti-Slavery Society (1984)
— Anti-Slavery International (1992)
--Freedom House (1995)
--The Interafrican Union for Human Rights (1995)
--The American Friends Service Committee (1996)
Persistence of Slavery
Despite the apparent willingness of the Mauritanian
authorities to allow interested organizations and individuals
to come to Mauritania to investigate the question of slavery,
and despite a body of evidence which indicates that the
government has taken measures to eradicate the practice and its
social consequences, we continue to hear reports that slavery
exists — not merely the vestiges of slavery, but slavery itself.
Journalists and other investigators have reported that
sales of slaves continue.
Some organizations have reported that not all Mauritanians
are aware that slavery has been abolished.
The government has been accused by some of being too
passive in its efforts to educate the people concerning their
rights and legal status, and that it has been lax in enforcing
its own laws.
American Embassy Investigations
Our Human Rights report for 1995 states "such practices as
coercive slavery and commerce in slaves appear to have
virtually disappeared." And: "Reports of involuntary
servitude are rare and unconfirmed."
The American Embassy in Nouakchott devotes a significant
proportion of its small staff's time to following the question
We have worked with American and international
organizations interested in this question, and welcome
opportunities to consult with them and to share information.
It is our hope that as the country continues to progress, and
in particular as it develops and improves its economy,
increased prosperity, literacy, and education will create the
conditions under which the last vestiges of slavery will truly
become only a historical memory. The fact that cases relating
to slavery continue to be brought before the courts indicates
that not all former masters have accepted the law of the land.
We will continue to urge the government of Mauritania to exert
additional effort and resources to programs designed to educate
its citizens about their rights conferred by their own laws.
As for our own position, wherever evidence of the continuing
practice of slavery surfaces, we strongly condemn the practice.
Both slave raiding and slavery have deep malignant roots in
Sudan. Southern Sudan began to be seriously impacted by such
practices following the 1821 imposition of Turkish/Egyptian
rule in the north. Cairo formally ended state participation in
the slave trade in 1854; and in I860, under European pressure,
Egypt also prohibited the slave trade. However, private armies
of slave traders continued to despoil the south. Organized
slave trading came to an end in the late 19th century; and in
1924, the Anglo-Eyptian Condominium formally abolished domestic
The institution of slavery persisted in some areas,
however, despite this 1924 ban. The Baggara Arabs in southern
Kordofan continued yearly raids on the Dinka, some of whom they
seized as slaves. Despite being outlawed, such practices
persisted in large measure because northerners continued to
view southerners as inferiors; and northerners possessed the
arms to impose their dominance. Africa Watch reported in 1990
that kidnapping, hostage-taking, and other Arab militia
activities in the south approached the reemergence of slavery.
The 13-year civil war in Sudan has produced widespread
human suffering, including more than 1.5 million people dead, 3
million displaced within Sudan, and about 600,000 refugees,
most in neighboring countries.. There is also a large refugee
population within Sudan from Ethiopia and Eritrea.
In addition to the calamity directly caused by the war,
there has been a continuing, widespread pattern of abuse of
fundamental human rights, including the practice of slavery.
Since 1991, the human rights situation in Sudan has been of
sufficient concern to require the attention of the UN Human
Rights Commisssion (UNHRC) . In 1992, the UNHRC mandated the
appointment of an independent expert to report on human rights
in Sudan. The United States strongly backed this initiative
from its inception and continues to support the work of the
Special Rapporteur, Gaspar Biro, who is testifying before this
There is a difference in the scope and magnitude of human
rights abuses committed by the Government of Sudan (GOS) versus
that of opposition factions also engaging in such abuses. with
regard to slavery-like practices, all sides involved in
fighting the war practiced forced conscription (or impressment)
into their military forces, but it is GOS forces and their
allies that stand accused of engaging in the practice of
What the United States Is Doing:
In 1993, 1994, and 1995, the United States introduced and
supported resolutions of the UN General Assembly criticizing
the human rights practices of the GOS and southern opposition
factions, each resolution using increasingly harsh terms. The
United States has also taken the lead regarding consideration
of such abuses by the UN Human Rights Commisssion (UNHRC) ,
which adopted resolutions on the human rights situation in
Sudan in 1994 and 1995. The 1995 resolution included specific
provisions on slavery and recorded that "the phenomena of
slavery and practices associated with slavery continue to exist
in Sudan." The resolution also cited "the passivity or
collusion of the Government in the face of activities,
especially affecting displaced families in the south, that
include the sale and trafficking of children, their abduction
and forced internment at undisclosed locations, ideological
indoctrination or cruel, inhuman and degrading punishments."
The United States will again exercise this leadership role
starting next week at the 1996 UN Human Rights Commission
session in Geneva. On the issue of slavery, the United States
will introduce a resolution on the human rights situation in
Sudan that will include a provision on slavery based on the
most recent findings of the Special Rapporteur. The provision
will again urge the Government of Sudan to investigate reports
of such practices without delay and to take appropriate
measures to halt such abuses.
The Government of Sudan has not taken effective measures in
response to reported incidents of slavery and related
practices. Its failure to investigate such matters has led
some to the inference that the government tacitly allows such
practices. The United States looks forward to the 1996 Report
of the Special Rapporteur to the UNHRC on this issue, which is
expected at any time.
The United States has recently used other avenues to voice
its concerns regarding slavery in Sudan. In a speech on
November 28, 1995 to the UNGA Third Committee, the U.S.
Permanent Representative Madeleine Albright stated as follows:
The Government of Sudan remains an egregious violator of
internationally recognized human rights. Over the past
year, we have seen increasing reports of slavery and forced
labor of women and children belonging to racial, ethnic,
and religious minorities. We have information that
atrocities against indigenous peoples have intensified.
And we hear nothing of investigations.
The 1995 country report on Sudan, released March 6, also
contains a section on slavery:
Although the law prohibits forced or compulsory labor,
slavery persists. According to the report by the U.N.
Special Rapporteur, reports and information from a variety
of sources after February 1994 indicate that the number of
cases of slavery, servitude, slave trade, and forced labor
have increased alarmingly. The taking of slaves,
particularly in war zones, and their export to parts of
central and northern Sudan continued. There also continued
to be credible, but unconfirmed reports that women and
children were sold and sent abroad to work as domestics,
agricultural laborers, or sometimes concubines. In some
instances, local authorities took action to stop instances
of slavery, in other cases the authorities did nothing to
stop the practice.
Both the Government and rebel factions continued to
forcibly conscript young men and boys into the military or
rebel militias. For example, in February a group of
national service trainees were unexpectedly taken to
Khartoum and flown to Juba, where they were expected to
serve in combat. Young men and boys faced significant
hardship and abuse once conscripted for military service.
The SPLA reportedly held thousands of children in camps
against their will as a reservoir of recruits (see Sections
l.g. and 5). The rebel factions continued to force
southern men to work as laborers or porters or forcibly
conscripted them into their fighting forces.
The Special Rapporteur received testimony on regular
abductions which took place in Gogrial during joint
incursions by the army, the PDF, and the armed militias.
In addition, during April and May of 1995 it is reported
that a train proceeding from Babanusa to Wau was used to
transport civilians abducted during raids in the area
carried out by government forces. According to testimony,
PDF troops took thousands of cattle and abducted some 500
women and 150 children. (p. 23)
The United States recently decided to suspend its
diplomatic presence in Sudan for reasons related to the
security of its diplomatic staff. The U.S. Ambassador to Sudan
is now resident in Nairobi, with a small support staff. While
the Ambassador and other U.S. diplomats will travel into Sudan,
the ability of the United States to independently monitor or
investigate human rights abuses within Sudan will be
significantly reduced. For this reason, the United States will
rely even more heavily on the reports of the Special Rapporteur,
The United States will continue its efforts, through
international fora and direct channels, to urge the government
of Sudan to take the reports of slavery seriously, investigate
such reports of such practices on a timely basis, and put a
halt to any and all such activities in areas subject to its
MR. SAMUEL COTTON, MSW, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE
COALITION AGAINST SLAVERY IN MAURITANIA AND SUDAN
THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON INTERNATIONAL OPERATIONS AND HUMAN
RIGHTS AND THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON AFRICA
MARCH 13, 1996
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee:
I am Samuel Cotton, a Ph.D. candidate in Social Policy at Columbia University, and the
Executive Director of The Coalition Against Slavery in Mauritania and Sudan. CASMAS and I
are grateful for this opportunity to testify before the Subcommittee about the buying, selling and
breeding of black Africans in the Islamic Republic of Mauritania by Arab Moors (Beydanes).
Between December 23, 1995 and January 17, 1996, 1 conducted ethnographic research in
Senegal and Mauritania on the practice of slavery, utilizing camera, audio, and video recording
devices. Interviews of black Mauritanians in the refugee camps of NDioum, Boki-Diawe,
Wourossogui, and Horkadiere, provided testimony which supported the charge that slavery is
still a way of life in Mauritania and has simply shifted from an overt to a covert practice.
Mauritanian refugees living in Dakar, Senegal, who maintain contact with black
Mauritanians who travel frequently between Mauritania and Senegal, also report that the practice
remains massive and rampant. Recorded interviews in Ouagou Niayes Two, a section of Dakar,
with Mr. Omar Ba and Mr. Bocar Ba are part of this testimony.
In addition, Garba Diallo, a Mauritanian scholar at The International People's College in
Denmark, conducted research which indicated that slaves are brought across the Senegal River
from Mauritania to Senegal. His research was corroborated by my findings in Senegal.
In a section of Dakar, called Ouagou Niayes Two, interviews indicated that there were
slaves at the home of a Mauritanian Moor. The house was located, and in the white Moor's
absence, one of the blacks were interviewed . The following indicators were present: living in a
house owned by a white Moor, native of Mauritania, isolated and not permitted to interact with
the surrounding black community, working for no wages, and Arab in culture. These indicators
are used by researchers to operationalize slavery in Mauritania, and are the product of cumulative
research by human rights organizations. The person interviewed met all of these criteria. In
addition, anedotal data gathered from interviews with Africans in Senegal indicate that Moors
traveling with their slaves to Senegal and using them as cheap labor in their businesses and homes
I arrived in Mauritania, on January 2, 1996 and departed January 12, 1996. I conducted
interviews with the leaders of two anti-slavery organizations: Messaoud Ould Boulkheir,
president of El Hor, and Boubacar Messaoud, president of SOS. Slave. Both organizations are
highly respected by both Negro Africans and Haratines and are at the forefront of the struggle to
rid Mauritania of slavery. El Hor and SOS. Slave are not recognized by the government of
Mauritania because a coalition is forming between these two organizations and Negro African
political organizations. This coahion represents a convergence of political thought between
Haratines and Negro Africans who have been historically inimical toward each other. Harmony
between Negro Africans, free slaves, and slaves would result in 70 to 80 percent of the
population, which is African, becoming unified on the issue of slavery against an approximately 20
percent ruling Arab elite.
Both leaders stated that slaves are kept in bondage by a combination of physical restraint,
psychological domination, religious manipulation, and the lack of government interest in creating
programs that would enable slaves to make the transition to freedom Boubacar Messaoud added
that "slavery is massive in Mauritania, especially in the countryside and that there is a traffic in
slaves between Mauritania and the Arab Emirate States."
To protest the practice of slavery, anti-slavery organizations are publishing the cases of
runaway slaves in newspapers now that the press has been granted more freedom This might
help the committee to appreciate that slavery and abductions of runaway slaves and their children
are common occurrences in Mauritania. And in many of these cases, government authorities play
One case, concerns a Fatimetou Mint Rabi Ould Ely, a 15 year old daughter of a former
black slave. Her mother's name was Delyla Mint Mohamed Mbarek; Delyla died in 1980.
Fatimetou was living with her uncle until February 1995 when the authorities came and picked her
up by force. The Governor of Guidimagha, Yahya Ould Sidi Moustaph, sent his assistant
Mohamed Ould El Gouth who is in charge of Economic Affairs. Mohamed came to the village of
NDoumety, with a military escort, presented papers to her uncle and told him that he was sent by
the Governor to pick up Fatimetou Mint Rabi Ould Ely. Mohamed then took Fatimetou away.
The family of Fatimetou pressed charges to get her back since slavery is outlawed. The
uncle, after fighting through a quite a bit of government red tape, learned that Fatimetou had been
sold to Abdel Wehab Ould Ahmed Jiddou who had brought Fatimetou from one of his uncles.
When Abdel was questioned, he refused to tell the authorities what he did with Fatimetou.
Consequently, Fatimetou has disappeared into slavery. It is important to remember that
Fatimetou was a Haratine, or free slave. This statement has not yet addressed the population of
slaves (abid) who are the chattel property of Arab Berbers.
Haratines and runaway slaves state that the government of Mauritania does not penalize
slavers, nor has it created any concrete programs aimed at ending the practice of slavery. And for
these reasons the Arab population carries on the business of slavery as they have for centuries.
The difference is that today, the buying and selling of slaves takes place in the houses of
Moors and are private arrangements between Arab families. Open slave markets are clearly a
thing of the past.
"Marriages" are arranged and a strong black male is placed with a strong black female, and
the Arab families arranging this "marriage" divide up the children that are born. Black women are
bred many times by different slave men, and the children become the property of the master.
When asked in an interview why her master holds her children, the slave woman Aichanna Mint
Abeid Boili stated," because my belly belongs to my master."
I interviewed four runaway slaves and one freed slave: one male and four females. All of
the slaves interviewed che the names of their masters and where the masters reside. In addition,
all the slaves interviewed have family members who remain in bondage. The people I spoke to.
both slave and free, can be contacted through the anti-slavery jrganizations of El Hor, or S.O.S.
Slave based in Nouakchott.
Brahim Ould Maboune: Runaway - Family in bondage.
M^arka Mint Bilal: Runaway - Family and two children still in bondage.
Jebada Mint Maouloud:
Shaba Mint Bilal:
Runaway - Family and a child still in bondage.
Free - Her hands were tortured, and as a result, she is
worthless to her master. Her mother is still in bondage
Aichanna Mint Abeid Boilil: Runaway - Family and five children still in bondage
It is important that the United States' State Department listen to the people in bondage
and not the oppressive government of Mauritania. The shift in the language of the State
Department from stating that slavery exists, to stating that slavery is over and only the vestiges of
slavery remain is disturbing. Then there are the attacks in the press on the Mauritanian refugee
Mohamed Athie by the United States' Ambassador Dorothy Sampas in an effort to improve the
image of the Mauritanian government. A government practicing a system of apartheid and guilty,
as recently as 1991, of the murder of 1500 of it's black citizens, and the ethic cleansing of
approximately 100.000 peaceful black citizens. These actions raise both ethical and moral
questions for the United States.
If slavery is over in Mauritania, when did this great event occur— who observed the
freeing of over 90,000 people? How, and with what methods, were the slaves informed that they
are physically and spiritually free? Where are the interviews that indicate slaves are remaining in
bondage only for economical reasons? What provisions for their physical needs were made—food,
clothing, and shelter? How were they protected from their masters recapturing them and
returning them to slavery? What governmental or international organization monitored and
evaluated the success of what would have to be a supendous undertaking?
Why didn't the Mauritanian government allow the political parties of the Negro Africans
and the anti-slavery organizations of the Haratines monitor this major event since slavery is at the
top of their agenda.
There aren't any valid answers to these questions, because no empirical data, nor any
studies conducted by experienced investigators, such as the London based Anti-Slavery Society,
exists which support the statements of the State Department or Ambassador Dorothy Sampas.
The United States was once a slaving nation and participated in the emancipation of
millions of Africans. America has historical experience in this area and clearly recognized the
need for concrete measures when it created the Freedman's Bureau of 1865. Does the State
Department really believe that a system of slavery that began before the American slave trade and
has continued to this very day, will not require concrete and measurable interventions.
It is important for me as an African American, and as a citizen of the world, that my
government does not continue to wink at this atrocity. I and the oppressed and enslaved people
of Mauritania hope, that the appearance of a break in relations between Iraqi Ba'athists and the
Mauritanian government, is not the price that Mauritania has paid the United States. The price to
look the other way while the Mauritanian government continues to permit its citizens to retain
their cultural institution of enslaving black Africans.
STATEMENT OF CHARLES JACOBS, ED.D., RESEARCH DIRECTOR
AMERICAN ANTI- SLAVERY GROUP,
BEFORE THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON AFRICA
THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON INTERNATIONAL OPERATIONS AND HUMAN RIGHTS
COMMITTEE ON INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
MARCH 13, 1996
Madame Chairwomen and Mr. Chairman;
I am Charles Jacobs, Research Director of the American Anti-
Slavery Group, an organization of Africans and Americans --
black, white. Christian, Muslim and Jewish -- who have for three
years endeavored to place the issue of the present-day traffic in
black slaves on America's national agenda. It is a great
privilege to have the opportunity to come before you today on
behalf of the modern day slaves of Mauritania and Sudan.
Your decision to hold hearings on this matter is a source of hope
to us and to those in bondage, some of whom I promise, even now,
are hearing of our discussions today. Our hope is that these
investigations translate speedily into forceful, pragmatic steps
to come to the aid of those whose lives are not their own, who
awake each day as the owned property of another, and whose cries
for help have gone unheard.
Though you are constantly, and properly beseeched by persons and
groups in danger and in need, we ask that you give special
consideration to a class of people most Americans thought had
long ago vanished: black chattel slaves.
The American people prides itself on its concern for human
rights. We have spent blood and treasure both -- to comfort, aid
and protect victims of cruel abuses of power.
Moreover, America is a nation which risked its very existence
over the issue of one man owning another.
And so it was not surprising that some cases of human bondage
have prompted U.S. action.
* Last year when it was discovered that natives of Thailand were
enslaved in California -- trapped behind barbed wire fortresses,
forced to make clothing for little or no money, unable to leave
until they paid back what their masters paid for them --
Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, lead an immediate and intensive
campaign to aid the slaves and punish their masters.
* Given American history, it was not surprising that Congress
would act against slavery, even when it takes place on foreign
soil. And two years ago Congress made it a crime for American
citizens to travel to foreign lands and pay to have sex with
children who are kidnapped or sold into brothels as sex slaves.
* And, given American history, it was not surprising that
President Bush acted on behalf of Haitians in the Dominican
Republic who are rounded up and forced at gunpoint to harvest the
sugar crop. (This slavery, by the way, continues today and needs
more attention.) 1
Yet today as we are gathered in this capitol of freedom black
people are being kidnapped and captured in slave raids; they are
bought and sold; they are given as wedding gifts; they are
inherited; they are tortured and branded; and they are bred: the
children of raped slaves belong to the master. Yet there has been
to date no action on the part of our Government to come to their
aid. 2 This is not only surprising, it is also incomprehensible.
Equally incomprehensible is the failure of Western human rights
organizations to have marshalled public support for these black
slaves. Today you are hearing directly from people who have seen
slavery and who have interviewed slaves and escaped slaves in
Mauritania and Sudan. But in fact evidence of slavery in Sudan,
Mauritania and Libya, compiled by the most prestigious and
reliable sources has been available for years. If the existence
of chattel slavery in the last decade of the 20th Century is
tragic; so is the failure of the human rights community to have
developed an adequate activist constituency that could come to
I am by profession a management consultant and only three years
ago became active in this campaign. But uncovering the existence
of present day black slavery did not require any special training
or even foreign travel. Reams of incontrovertible evidence --
documents, photos, news reports -- are easily compiled with phone
calls and letters to any number of NGO's, particularly those
focussed on Africa. The news that in this, the last decade of the
2 0th Century, black women and children are bought and sold for
$15 dollars was sitting quietly in everyone's files. The shame of
the slave trade is matched by the shame of silence on the part of
many of those who knew.
Of course there were and are a relatively small group of people
and organizations who have tried to act on the existing evidence.
I've listed them below. 3 But my research found that in the world
of international human rights organizations, black chattel slaves
had been a well-kept secret. Apart from the African exile groups
themselves, who have received help from only a few NGOs, no one
had taken on as a primary project the plight of the black slaves.
The following organizations have researched this topic and have
published irrefutable evidence of slavery in Mauritania and
Sudan: the United Nations, the U.S. State Department, Amnesty
International, Human Rights Watch/Africa, the London-based Anti-
Slavery International, which is the world's oldest human rights
organization, and the International Labor Organization (ILO) .
In addition, one could always collect occasional news reports by
journalists who had travelled to Africa. But in general, the
media, which rightly prides itself in ferreting out cases of
injustice and which has caused the world to act on behalf of many
besieged and oppressed people has failed the African slaves.
While there have been lengthy documentaries on other cases of
modern day slavery, viz., the Haitian sugar slaves, the Indian
carpet weaving children, and the sex slaves of Asia, I am aware
of no documentary on modern day black slavery.
The failure of the media to report the existence of slavery in
Africa has been a disaster for those in bondage. African slaves
have simply not appeared on the West's map of concern. Each time
one of us appears in on radio talk shows or at public events we
are met at first with utter shock and disbelief.
I leave it to today's other witnesses -- several of whom have
risked their lives to find and to tell this story --to give you
a detailed picture of the workings of the slave trade. I want to
confine my remarks to:
a. a schematic outline of human bondage in Mauritania and Sudan;
b. a description of what we have done to bring attention to these
c. suggestions for U.S. policy.
Black slaves in the Islamic Republic of Mauritania and in Sudan."
The countries which stretch across the north of the African
continent straddle an Arab-African divide. The slaving of black
Africans -- a cause and a consequence of the conflicts between
these two civilizations -- existed for centuries. In at least two
cases, it continues today.
The Black Muslim Slaves of Mauritania; 5
In Mauritania, slavery has simply never ended, though it has been
abolished on paper several times since 1960. In 1993, the U.S.
State Department estimated that up to 90,000 blacks still live as
the property of Arabo - Berbers . There are estimates that 200,000
freed slaves continue to serve their former masters because of
psychological or economic dependance.
Black Africans in Mauritania were converted to Islam hundreds of
years ago, but while the Koran forbids the enslavement of fellow
Muslims, in Mauritania race outranks religious doctrine. These
people are chattel. They are used for domestic labor, farming,
and as concubines. They may be exchanged for guns, camels, trucks
or money. They are a source of personal status. And they are
bred: Their children are the property of the master.
The black Muslims slaves of Mauritania are denied rights extended
to their co-religionists in the poorest of Muslim countries: they
may not marry without the master's permission. They may not pray
or go to mosque without consent.
Treatment of Slaves:
I refer you to a report by Human Rights Watch, Africa, published
in 1990, in which it is explained that slaves who offend their
masters, or who are recalcitrant, may be subjected to a variety
of tortures :
For any simple offense, the slave is tied up and left in the sun
without food or water for a period of time. However for a more
serious "offense" Human Rights Watch Africa describes these
a. The Camel Treatment : a camel is denied water for days so that
its stomach shrinks. The offending slave is tied to the
underbelly of the camel and the animal is given water. As the
stomach rapidly expands, the slave is pulled apart.
b. The Insect Treatment , the slave has his hands bound. The
master places small dessert insects into his ear canals which are
capped off with stones. His head is bound. The insect treatment
has driven men mad.
c. Burning Coals : The offending slave is buried chest-deep in
sand. Burning coals are placed in a whole dug near his genitals
which slowly roast.
Sudan is Africa's largest country, spanning the Arab-African
divide. A decades -old civil war between Arab and African
intensified when a coup in 1989 installed an Islamic
Fundamentalist Government, backed by Iran and Iraq. The black
Africans in the south are Christian, animist and some are
Muslims. Islamic law forbids Muslims from enslaving other
Muslims, however, just as in Mauritania, in Sudan race supersedes
religious doctrine and black Muslims are enslaved as part of the
The policy of the government in Khartoum has been described as a
Jihad (Holy War) to Arabize and Islamicize the black south. Some
commentators fear that a success in Sudan will open all of black
Africa to radical Islam.
As a result of the war, Arab militias, armed by the government of
Khartoum raid African villages, shoot the men and enslave the
women and children. These are either kept as individual booty by
the militias, sold north, or, as a recently declassified U.S.
State Department document contends, 6 trucked into Khadaffy's
Libya. Some have said these slaves are shipped to Chad,
Mauritania and other places in the Gulf.
The United Nations Special Rapporteur, Gaspar Biro, states that a
modern form of slave market exists in the Sudan. A reporter for
the Atlanta Constitution has described scenes in which Arab
merchants approach starving mothers in slave camps and offer to
"buy" one of her children in exchange for enough food to keep the
others from starvation.
Christian Solidarity International, whose representatives have
testified to Congress last year, identifies a different sort of
wholesale slavery taking place in Sudan. Groups of captured
Christian and animist black children are taken to cultural
cleansing camps given Arabic names and forcibly converted to
Islam. Some are sent to fight against their own people on the
The U.S. -based "New Abolitionist Movement:" --a short history.
On March 20, 1993, The American Anti-Slavery Group was founded in
Washington, D.C. Our goal was to place the plight of Africa's
slaves on the American national agenda. Our strategy was to re-
convene the anti-apartheid coalition. We reasoned that freedom in
north and west Africa should be valued no less than freedom in
To that end we have published about slavery in over 2 00 black
newspapers; we have sent document packages and letters with
photographs of slaves to leading African- American organizations,
to the entire Congressional Black Caucus, to women's groups, to
journalists who write about human rights, to human rights groups
and to church groups .
We have published and been written about in the national press,
including The New York Times, Washington Post, Washington Times,
National Review, Village Voice and Reader' s Digest.
We inspired and participated in a three part PBS series expose of
the slave trade. We are on talk radio shows around the country
We sponsored the first Abolitionist Conference in this country in
over 13 years held at Columbia University. Since that
conference, several of the original activists have formed other
grass roots groups -- in New York, Chicago, Detroit, Miami,
Boston, and Washington. We work in full cooperation.
We announce today that we are joining in a lawsuit initiated by
the Independent Women's Forum based in Washington D.C. on behalf
of African female slaves who are raped in captivity. We note that
Bosnian women who were raped and tortured can now sue Bosnian
Serb leader Radovan Karadzic in the United States for crimes
against humanity. That suit would be a model for our action.
This year we will be concentrating on bringing Abolitionist
Conferences to college campuses and communities across the
country. AASG's concerns have widened and now include other cases
of modern day human bondage.
Recommendations for U.S. policy:
1. The eradication of slavery should be an important goal of the
United States Government in all of its activities. It is
extremely important that the United States of America, which
fought a Civil War over the issue of human bondage, state clearly
and forcefully to the world that the practice of slavery is
wrong, and that those who engage in it will be called to task,
shamed and pressed to end this barbaric phenomenon. We have done
as much against the practice of torture.
2. We agree with the language in HR #49 initiated by Congressman
Barney Frank (D.--MA) and co-sponsored by Rep. Eleanor Holmes
Norton and Rep. Robert Torricelli (D.--NJ) requiring the U.S. to
act against slaving nations. It would require the State
Department to issue in its yearly human rights reports, a special
section on slavery where it exists. It also requires the U.S. to
act in consort with regional bodies, and with appropriate United
Nations organizations, to draw up a multinational plan to put an
end to slavery where it exists.
3. Specifically in the case of Mauritania:
The U.S. should follow the long term United Nations agenda to
encourage the Mauritanian government to monitor slavery, collect
data, and emb ark on rehabilitation programs. Mauritania should be
pressed to enforce its own law, and this includes punishments for
slaving. In brief, the program should be: investigate, release,
However, we note that the Mauritanian government refuses to allow
research by NGOs and continues to deny the problem.
With regard to aid: The United States should set minimum targets
for an abolitionist program and condition aid upon reaching those
4. Specifically in the case of Sudan:
The U.S. should make sure it is doing all it can to provide help
to those enslaved, and to bring upon the GOS international
condemnation and shame for countenancing and encouraging this
ancient scourge. The GOS should be ostracized from international
organizations and meetings of civilized nations.
1. Please see my recently published "Slavery: Worldwide Evil,"
World & I, April, 1996.
2. It should be noted that Rep. Barney Frank (D.--N.J.)
introduced legislation last session and again in this session
requiring the U.S. to act against slaving nations. This
Resolution (#49) is co-sponsored by Congressman Torrecelli and
Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton. I want to publicly thank Congressman
Frank who has been from the start of our effort been a source of
moral support .
In addition, Congressman Dick Zimmer (R.--NJ) has introduced a
bill to cut U.S. aid to the Islamic Republic of Mauritania which
according to a State Department report published in 1994, has up
to 90, 000 slaves .
3. Apart from the Africans themselves -- local resistance groups
in Sudan and Mauritania and their brothers abroad -- I want to
mention the Puebla Institute in Washington, D.C., Christian
Solidarity International in Geneva, Gaspar Biro of the United
Nations and John Prendergast ' s Center of Concern ... and there
are others .
The one and only U.S. womens' group to join our efforts against
slavery is the Washington D.C.- based Independant Women's Forum,
whose Executive Director, Barbara Ledeen, has worked tirelessly
for this cause.
4. Please see our attached New York Times op-ed, "Bought and
Sold," as a short primer on this topic.
5. There are three population groups in Mauritania:
a. The Arabo-Berbers who rule the country are Arabized Berbers
who speak a Berber dialect of Arabic called Hassanyia.
b. The free blacks in the south consisting of such groups as the
Wolof, Soninke and Fulani .
c. The Haratines: slaves and former slaves who have been
culturally cleansed and Arabized, their African ethnicity and
identity partly or wholly erased. Racially mixed, they speak
Hassanyia. They are trained to identify with their masters and
have been often used to fight against the free blacks and to
oppose anti-slavery movements. The government rightly fears that
an alliance of Haratines and free blacks would overthrow Arabo-
Berber rule .
It is important to note that all Africans in Mauritanian
converted to Islam hundreds of years ago: the slaves are black
7. British film of such a camp, showing black children in chains
being beaten to learn the Koran, was shown on PBS's Tony Brown's
American Anti-Slavery Group
RO. Box 441612
Somerville, MA 02144
THE NEW YORK TIMES OP-ED WEDNESDAY, JULY 13, 1994
By Charles Jacobs
and Mohamed Athie
Cmth. Amnesty Interna-
branch decided u was
lime to abolish slavery
Presented with evi-
dence of human bond-
;e in North Africa, the members
)ted to add to an already crowded
andate the emancipation of chattel
It may be hard to believe that in
<94 a new abolitionist movement is
?eded Today, in the former French
ilony of Mauritania, where slavery
as ended — on paper — in 1980. the
'.ate Department estimates that
>,000 blacks still live as the property
" Berbers Perhaps 300,000 freed
aves continue to serve their former
lasters because of psychological or
Black Africans in Mauritania were
inverted to Islam more than 100
.■ars ago, but while the Koran forbids
ie enslavement of fellow Muslims, in
us country race outranks religious
ocirine These people are chattel;
sed for labor, sex and breeding. They
lay be exchanged for camels, trucks,
uns or money Their children are the
roperty of the master
A 1990 Human Rights Watch/Af-
ica report said that in Mauritania
outine punishments for the slightest
lull include beatings, denial of food
nd prolonged exposure to the sun,
/ith hands and feet tied together
Serious" infringement of the mas-
k's rule can mean prolonged tor-
Bought and Sold
lent." the "insect treatment" and
burning coals" — none of which is fit
j describe in a family newspaper
To the east, in the Sudan, slavery is
Taking a comeback, the result of a
2-year-old war waged by the Muslim
orth against the black Christian and
mmisi south Arab militias, armed
y the Government, raid villages,
nostly those of the Dinka tribe, shoot
harles Jacobs is research director
f the .American Anti-Slavery Group.
Mohamed Athte, formerly a consular
•fftcer at the Maurttaman Embassy
n Washington, is chairman of the
Young slave girls in Ma
the men and enslave the women and
children. These are kept as personal
property or marched north and sold
Many of the children are auctioned
off Gaspar Biro, a United Nations hu-
man rights monitor, returned from the
Sudan in March reporting that abduct-
ed children are often sent to camps
that become 20th-century slave mar-
kets The price varies with supply In
1989. a woman or child could be bought
for $90 In 1990. as the raids increased,
the price fell to $15 Not only are their
bodies in bondage but also they are
stripped of their cultural, religious and
An investigator from Anti-Slavery
International interviewed Abuk Thuc
Akwar. a 13-year-old girl who, along
with 24 other children, was captured
by the militia, marched north and giv-
en to a farmer "Throughout the day
she worked in his sorghum fields and
at night in his bed During the march
she was raped and called a black
donkey." the investigator wrote in a
1990 report The girl escaped with the
help of the master's jealous wife.
Another report described Kon. a 13-
year-old boy who was abducted
Arab nomads and taken to a
chant's house. There he found sc
Dinka men hobbling, their Achilla
tendons cut because they refused to
become Muslims Threatened with
the same treatment, the boy convert-
ed After six months, he escaped. Kon
was lucky slaves caught fleeing are
often castrated or branded like cattle
Human rights groups are the first to
admit their failure to organize support
for Africa's slaves Anti-Slavery Inter-
national is courageous but small and
underfinanced. People at Africa Watch
privately despair about Mauritania:
"No one is interested in a French-
speaking country of only two million
In North Africa
and Sudan, a
and no oil," said one researcher.
Most distressing is the silence of
the American media, whose reports
counted for so much in the battle to
end apartheid in South Africa, and of
mainstream African-American or-
ganizations The Congressional Black
Caucus has yet to take a stand on the
issue. Does freedom count for more in
Johannesburg than in Nouakchott
We hear of "compassion fatigue."
especially when it comes to Africa, but
it is hard to believe that people can be
nd turn away Far better to think thai
s the plight of slaves becomes known
ill once again speak
of human freedom Z
"When one man is enslaved no man is free." - John F. Kennedy
1 1996 Program:
| Conferences on Campus
Q^ke -/Intl-^yLavetxf l^epott
BLACK HISTORY MONTH
Black Slaves: They're not history
Alang Ajak, a six year old girl, was
taken captive by Arabs in Sudan who
raided her village in 1991 Last April,
she was interviewed by Shyam Bhatia,
correspondent from the London
Observer who had gone to Khartoum
(Sudan's capital) to cover the 'Third
Popular and Islamic International
Conference" March 30-April 2 of last
year Bhatia wrote in the London
Observer (reprinted in the Washington
center, now serves as a transit
point for young boys and girls
who are shipped to the Persian
Gulf Alang might have wound
up serving a nch Gulf family, but
as fate had it she was kept in
Sudan: the man who bought the
6-year old decided to give her as
a gift to his son, Abdul Rohman,
whose wife, Zeinab, decided to
brand the girl, "in case you get
"Alang Ajak's worst nightmare came "After they marked me like an
true the night when she was dreaming animal," Alang explained, she
of her liorf parents It seemed that an planned to escape Alang of
intruder had grabbed her by the throat course risked torture — the usual
and was pressing burning metal into punishment for trying to flee —
her flesh As she opened her eyes she an< l sne escaped
realized it was no dream: She was the
latest victim of slave-branding,
aphenomenon endorsed by some
Sudanese Arabs who have revived
slavery after more than 100 years "
Sudanese told Bhatia thai the town of
Shendi, a 19th Century slave-trading
Starting in March we can be
reached at our e-mail
aasgS'userl channel 1 com
BREAKING THE MEDIA BLACKOUT ON HUMAN BONDAGE IN AFRICA In Sudan and Mauritania, African men,
women and children are captured, bought, sold, exchanged for camels, inherited, branded and bred. Yet this might qualify as
the world's best kept dirty secret Apart from an AASG expose on PBS, there has been no national TV coverage
Even people most knowledgable about human rights abuses are generally ignorant about chattel slavery In June 1 994. of Ihe
500 members of Amnesty International gathered for their annual convention in Chicago, only about 1 5% knew that chattel
slavery still exists. And if slavery is a secret among this sophistocated group, then surely the general public remains in the dark
Why? The brief answer is that the media has thus far neglected to shine its powerful light on human bondage in Africa
When AASG has publicly criticized the media for this, media apologists ate dangerous, inaccessible locales to explain why
there's been so little coverage ■ — particularly in Africa.
This SPECIAL BLACK HISTORY MONTH ISSUE is dedicated to two reporters who put themselves at considerable risk to
document slavery in Sudan. Tim Sandler of the Boston Pheonix took a six-sealer propeller-driven plane flown by a bush pilot
iinto an active combat area to speak to escaped slaves Shyam Bhatia of the London Observer ducked out of an International
Islamic Conference in Khartoum to meet with former slaves Bhatia was nearly arrested by state security forces on his plane out
iof Sudan. Sandler and Bhatia demonstrate ihe power the media can have to educate the public of evils most of us thought had
' long ago ceased They are credits to their profession we hope their examples inspire others
The Ann-Slavery Report is the newslener of American Ann-Slavery Group. Inc
\^SG-POB 441612 Somerville. MA 02144 ■ (617) :7K-4i:4 • aasg@userl channel I com
UllUSU junto i^v.,
Washington, DC. 20520
American Anti-Slavery Group
RO. Box 441612
Somerville, MA 02144
Dear Mr. Wolf:
Thank you for your letter of May, 5 , regarding human
rights abuses in Sudan. The Embassy in 'Khartoum provided
the information you requested, which is enclosed.
Assistant Secretary Moose provided much of this
information in his testimony on May' 4 to the Senate
Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Africa.
Robert A. Bradtke
Acting Assistant Secretary
for Legislative Affairs
Frank R. wolf,
House of Representatives
udanese government personnel appear
trating widespread human rights abu:;
ahr El Ghazal and the Nuba Mountains
t, credible reports of massacres, k:i
d labor, conscription of children, ::
acement and Arabization, and other a
ns . There is evidence that some abu
pping, may be carried out by poorly
ias without the approval and perhaps
s of the authorities. Other abuses,
ring with a freguency and on a scale
cult to think that they are happeni:n
edge of the authorities.
e s in parts of
buses in these
contro 1 led
however , a re
that make it
g without the
Reliable information on the western "transition zone"
— south Kordofan, including the Nuba Mountains, and Bahr
El Ghazal -- is hard to obtain. Access to the area is
restricted. Recently, however, there has been evidence
from credible, well-informed sources of widespread GOS
abuses in this zone.
According to several sources, forces of the Government
of Sudan regard the entire Bahr El Ghazal south of
Babanusa, outside of government-held towns, as an
"operational area." Anyone found there is considered a
SPLA member or supporter and killed or captured. For
In late 1992 and in February-March 1993 two military
trains, each with about 3,000 troops aboard, proceeded
from Babanusa to Wau. Some of the troops were from
the army, but most were members of former Arab tribal
militias, which the Government of Sudan/National
Islamic Front (GOS/NIF) has incorporated into the
Popular Defense Forces (PDF) .
The first train advanced preceded by foot soldiers who
killed or captured the civilians on their path. They
burned houses, fields, and granaries, and stole
thousands of cattle. Hundreds are estimated to have
The March 1993 train carried horses that extended the
soldiers' range. In five days, they reportedly killed
almost a thousand persons between Manwal Station and
Aweil and c^a^j^ed^^Owoj^en and children. The
burning of granaries and fieTo^s a~hd th~eT~t of cattle
caused many who escaped the troops to die later of
The sources state that when military convoys moving in
the Bahr El Ghazal lose vehicles to SPLA mines, the troops
typically burn the first village they fi.nc and kill its
v...orican Anti-Slavery Oroup
P.O. Bo> "- -'^
Somerv:!:-;. ::..- — --
Credible sources report heavy fighting from December
1992 to March 1993 in the Nuba Mountains, particularly in
the Tulisci Range. Fleeing Nubans speak of widespread
destruction of villages and killings near Dilling and
Kadugli — including a massacre at Belenya, which
reportedly was razed.
Credible sources say GOS forces, especially the PDF,
routinely steal w omen and children in the 3ahr El Ghazal.
Some woraeri__aJid_^j^lji_are kept as wives ; the others are
shippe~af =: rTorth where they perto'rm forced labor on Kordofan
farms or are exported, notably to Libya. Many Dinka are
reported to be performing forced labor in the areas of
Meiram and Abyei. Others are said to be on farms
There are also (dredible reports of kidnappings in •
Kordofan. In MarcnT9~93 hundreds of Nuer displaced
reached northern Kordofan, saying that Arab militias
between Abyei and Muglad had taken children by force,
killing the adults who resisted. 'The town of Hamarat el
Sheikh, northwest of Sodiri in north Kordofan, is reported
to be a transit point for Dinka and Nuba children who are
then truc ked to Lib ya.
While PDF kidnapping of women and children seems
recurrent, it is not, howe ver, condoned by_ all GOS
authorities. Whe^T^bhe^ltSrch train from Babanusa arrived
in Wau, authorities forced the PDF to release the 300
women and children they had captured. Later that month,
army forces at Aweil searched a train of PDF returning
from Wau. They found and freed women and children who
were being held in boxcars. In early 1993 the PDF
captured near Meiram five children between 7 and 12. when
a relative learned of their whereabouts and contacted the
police, the children were released.
Credible sources say that whenth g _M.ar ch military
train to Wau reached Me ir am, C^oTdierTrEpe*cT) scores of
displaced women. Thousands o£~d~Tspiacec. are currently
reaching northern Kordofan from Bentiu a.nd the Nuba
Mountains. Medical workers note an unusually high rate of
pregnancies among the women, who say the PDF raped them.
There are credible reports of widespread conscription
into government militias of children 10 or 11 and above
from "peace camps" (resettlement camps) in the Nuba
Mountains. In late January, 1993, soldiers in El Obeid
impressed into the PDF scores of boys 13 and above. (The
families, however, later secured the release of the
children who could prove they were enrolled in school.)
American Anti-Slavery Group
PO. Bo* 4^1612
Somerville, MA 02144
Credible sources state that since November 1992,
thousands of displaced Nubans, par ticula r ly from the
Tulisci, Habila, Koalib, Mendi , Tima, Lugawa, Sellara,
Dilling, Kadugli, and Miri areas have bfren passing through
El Obeid. Some are fleeing on their own, but others are
being moved by the authorities. The governor of Kordofan
has publicly said that the Government h.is moved many
civilians from "unsafe to secure areas." Some 2000 Nubans
from En Nahud were left in rags last November outside El
Obeid, without money, food, or shelter.
sources describe different forms of forced
Under a policy sometimes xnown as ""the *"
g e_of_fJJLty , " Arab soldiers are e:-icour"aged~~to wed
southern women they capture. Soldiers who have children
from these marriages get special premiums. In displaced
camps in Me Irani and Abyei, some Islamic charities
reportedly offer to feed, clothe, and educate destitute
Dinka children -- but in return, parents may not have
contact with their offspring. Some areas are closed to
Christian charities, even indigenous ones, while Muslim
^charities operate freely.
There are reports that thousands died of starvation in
Meiram displaced camp last year, while local authorities
would not release donated relief food stored in Babanusa.
There are consistent, credible reports that the PDF
routinely steals large amounts of relief food donated for
the displaced. Credible sources state that if the
populations in the displaced camps at Meiram, Abyei, and
Daeim do not receive food urgently, thousands more will
die this year.
Some casualty figures and other details may have been
exaggerated by frightened and shocked witnesses, but the
general tenor of the above reports appears credible. It
tracks with fragmentary reports of abuses in the Nuba
Mountains and Bahr El Ghazal that have become available
from other sources over a period of months.
To be fair, it
including the mass
for years. MoTeov
specifTc 1 cases of
the latter may be
acting without off
the case, the auth
however, are occur
of the massacres
difficult to think
knowledge of the G
must be said
that many of th e se abus es
ing and forced
and again in these areas
er, the react i
the fact of po
orities are de
ing PDF excess
ring with a fr
that they are
overnment of S
on of the authorities im
enslavement suggest that
-- although, if this is
relict for not
es . Other abuses,
equency, and, in the case
on a scale that make it
happening without the
American Antl-Slavery Group
P f *.-)* 44 lO I *-
Somerville. MA 02144
Statement of Mohamed Nacir Athie
Executive Director of the
International Coalition Against Chattel Slavery
Subcommittee on Africa
Subcommittee on International Operations and Human Rights
Committee of International Relations
United States House of Representatives
March 13, 1996
We the abolitionist movement request the passing of HR 1561 that contains the provision
to cut $3 million to the terrorist government of Colonel Maaouya Ould Sid'Ahmed Taya.
Other provisions should be added, specifically one which condemns the slave state of
We also encourage the US government to take this evidence to, the United Nations, the
World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund so that diplomatic and financial
sanctions be brought against Mauritania.
The organizations of African Unity, the Arab League and the Islam Conference must also
take formal action and act forcefully against the enslavement of blacks in Mauritania and
Sudan and other parts of the Islamic world, in particular the Persian Gulf countries.
We need help and we need justice. The first step is to simply condemn and sanction the
Mauritanian government. The second is to call upon international organizations such as
the UN to do their job in addressing this issue.
We Mauritanians want the peaceful return of the our refugee brethren backed with
We call upon the Congress of the United States to provide emergency humanitarian aid to
those who have been deported.
Under pressure from the French government and the Mauritanian government, the
UNHCR has stopped all humanitarian aid to the Mauritanian refugees. We believe this is
a shame. Their intention is to force close to 100,000 rightful citizens of Mauritania to
return without even basic rights.
The united Nations should call an international conference on slavery today, now, without
Such a conference will raise awareness around the world about the nightmare of chattel
slavery that the black people of Africa are enduring in African-Arab countries.
We do not forget about those who have been tortured and killed. We cannot forget those
who have been hung in the concentration camps of Inal just for celebrating Independence
In the US State Department's country report on Human Rights Practices for 1991 it is
reported that at Inal: "some of the detainees were tied by their testicles to the rear of a
four wheel drive vehicle and dragged at high speeds through the desert. Several of the
detainees, including Captain Lome Abdoulaye, a former senior officer in the Mauritanian
Navy, died as a result of this particular treatment." (State Department, 1991)
There is much more to say on the evils of the government of Colonel Maaouya and the
reign of terror in Mauritania. However, let me conclude here by saying that someday
black Mauritanians will have justice. That day will be when Haratines and black
Africans, who constitute the majority in my country, understand that they have everything
to gain in joining forces and permanently establishing peace. That day we will have
freedom and justice in our country, Mauritania.
Testimony Of The
HONORABLE MERVYNM. DYMALLY
Subcommittee on International Operations and Human Rights,
Subcommittee on Africa,
House Committee on International Relations
Wednesday, March 13, 1996
Mr. Chairman, Members of the Committee, first let me thank you
very much for giving me this opportunity to address you. My name is
Mervyn Dymally, former Member of Congress and former Chairman of the
Subcommittee on Africa. I am the Legislative Advocate for the Republic of
The Mauritanian government is pleased to have this opportunity to
address this question of the vestiges of slavery' in the Republic of
Mauritania. Let me say at the outset that no one in Mauritania denies the
fact that at one time slavery existed. Ever since independence, Mauritania
has moved toward the abolishment of chattel slavery as it was known prior
to independence. On several occasions, there have been presidential orders,
and amendments to the Constitution on this subject. The current
government has made it abundantly clear that slavery will not be tolerated
any more in Mauritania.
Beginning last year, a campaign was initiated across the country,
mostly concentrated in the African American media, appealing to African
Americans about the question of slavery in Mauritania. Every year since
1993, I have visited Mauritania on at least two occasions, sometimes as
many as four times a year. Every time I visit I raise this question of slavery
with the U. S. Embassy, with the Palace, and on two occasions with the
President. Each time I have gotten full assurances about the strong
commitment to abolishing every vestige of slavery in Mauritania.
To show their commitment to the abolishment of this issue, the
Mauritanians have sent, since 1993, three delegations here; two of which I
was intimately involved. I took a delegation, headed by the President of the
Senate, who in American terms would be considered Black, to Arizona to
meet Reverend Leon Sullivan and the leadership of the African/African
American Summit. The purpose of the visit was to convince Americans that
they were deeply committed to the elimination of every vestige of slavery.
Subsequently, a delegation came to Dakar, Senegal for the African/African
American Summit. The President of the Mauritanian Senate addressed the
problems and possibilities of democracy in Mauritania. Basically, what the
President of the Senate said was that colonialism left Mauritania in a
desperate state of poverty and illiteracy. Ever since independence, even
under the military rule, the country has moved forward to eliminate these
two phenomena, including all vestiges of slavery.
More recently, the government received a loan from the World Bank
to construct 600 schools in Mauritania - an issue in which the President has
taken a personal interest. The Mauritanians believe that the one way to
eliminate any vestige of slavery is through education and economic
development; and they are moving swiftly in that direction.
In the United States, the Mauritanian Friendship Society has issued
four reports. Last week copies of the recent report were circulated to
authors of HR 1 42 by Mr. Bereuter. I have made copies available to the
Members of the Subcommittee. That report was written by an NGO in
Mauritania and circulated by the Friendship Society with a brief preface.
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, the Mauritanian
government invites Members of Congress to travel to Mauritania at any
time. They have also asked anti-slavery groups to provide evidence of
specific time, place and names where they believe there is evidence of
slavery in Mauritania. So far no one has responded to that challenge.
In January of this year I visited Mauritania on two occasions. The
first time I missed a meeting with the Rector of the University because he
was in Paris. But both he and I considered the meeting so important that I
journeyed there the following week just to meet with him. I subsequently
came back to the United States attempting to seek some funds, to no avail,
to sponsor a Conference on Democracy and Economic Possibilities in
Mauritania. Last week I received a letter from the Rector that he is
proceeding to raise the necessary funds for the conference. It is our
intention to invite pro Africa groups and Members of Congress to attend
Mr. Chairman, in my brief statement to you, I wish to give you some
assurance that the Mauritanian government considers it a very serious
matter, and is deeply committed to eradicating all vestiges of slavery. Now
that is not to say that it is within the realm of possibility that the practice
may not exist in some far removed place or there may not be appearances of
slavery. That is a possibility. But let me conclude by quoting the recent
Country Reports of the United States Department of State.
"Some freed slaves have either stayed with or returned to their former
masters and continue to provide labor in exchange for room and
board and other basic necessities. Others live independently but
continue a symbiotic relationship with their former masters
performing occasional paid or unpaid labor in exchange for food,
clothing and medicare. There are no reliable statistics for the number
of haratines who continue to work for the same families for which
they worked before the emancipation of I960, whether as paid or
unpaid labor. Reports of cases of involuntary servitude are rare and
Mr. Chairman, I want to thank you very much for this opportunity,
and I am disposed to answering any questions now or in the future. Thank
you very much.
Christian Solidarity International
PO Box 99
Surrey KT3 3YF
CSI is a registered chanty (No 28 1836)
and a company limited by guarantee,
incoporated in England (Reg No 1836426)
THE BARONESS COX
HOUSE COMMITTEE ON
Joint Subcommittee Hearing with
The Subcommittee on
International Operations and
The Subcommittee on Africa
SLflUERY IN SUDRN
Wednesday March 13 1996
Board of Management: David Atkinson MP (President), Mervyn Thomas (Chairman). Rt Hon Lord Archer of Sandwetl Q C , The Baroness Cox, RevBria
Edwards. Franklin Evans. Rev Terry Hanford. Rl Rev Richard Hare. Graham Horsnell. Ernest Leland, Hector McKenzie. Rev Hans Stuckelberger (In
President, Switzerland), Rachel Tingle, Rev John Witdnanne
SLAVERY IN SUDAN.
This evidence is based on first-hand experiences obtained during 8 visits to Sudan in
1993-6 with Christian Solidarity International (CSI), a Human Rights organisation
working for victims of repression, regardless of their creed, colour or nationality.
CSI focuses on people who are cut off from other humanitarian organisations. Many
major organisations, such as UNHCR, UNICEF, ICRC can only visit places with the
permission of a sovereign government. Being independent, CSI can reach people who
are bereft of aid, and also of the advocacy which often accompanies aid.
In Sudan, Operation Life Line Sudan.and other organisations are providing help in
areas approved by the Government of Sudan. But many locations are designated 'No
Go' areas by the Government, including several airstrips in Bahr-El-Ghazal and the
Nuba Mountains. CSI has made these a priority. We have also recently visited the Beja
people - Muslims from Northern Sudan, who have been subjected to serious violations
of Human Rights by the Government. Many are displaced, living along the borders
between Sudan and Eritrea, in conditions of destitution, without medical or food aid.
CSI has made 8 missions to Sudan in the past 4 years; 6 to Southern Sudan, including
2 to the Nuba Mountains; 1 to the North, to meet the Government and to visit areas
under its control; and 1 to the Eritrean-Sudanese borderlands.
On the basis of eye-witness evidence and first-hand accounts, we testify to gross
violations of Human Rights, encouraged or directly inflicted by the Government of
Sudan. They include:
1. Military offensives against civilians in the South and the Nuba
Mountains, by ground attacks and aerial bombardment; resulting in the murder of
innocent women, children and elderly people; the destruction of towns, villages,
livestock and crops.
2. Enslavement of women, children and men from the South, possibly numbering
tens of thousands.
3. Forced displacement of millions of Sudanese people, by expropriation of land,
by military aggression. 1.5 million Sudanese people have died from war, hunger and
disease during recent years, and over 5 million have been displaced from their land.
4. Enforced Islamisation: there are many first-hand accounts by people who have
been forced to flee to the North or to garrisons held by Government troops in the South
and the Nuba Mountains, who have had to renounce their Christian names and accept
Islamic names and practices, as a condition of receiving aid essential for their survival
or the survival of their children.
5. The abduction of boys and young men from the Nuba Mountains and
from the Beja people and their enforced conscription into the
Government army to fight against the people of the South.
6. There is also well documented evidence of other violations of Human Rights,
including the arrest, imprisonment and torture of Sudanese citizens in the North
who do not support the policies of the Government. They include members of political
opposition groups and of ethnic groups such as the Beja people. The majority of these
are Muslims from Northern Sudan, who do not support the fundamentalist beliefs and
policies of the ruling regime. Many have suffered severe torture. Although violations of
Human Rights have also been perpetrated by some of the factions in the South against
other Southerners, we are pleased to note that the people of the South have managed to
reduce their inter-factional fighting
The major Sudanese democratic opposition groups have also made concerted
endeavours to develop an agenda for democratic policies for the future of Sudan, under
the aegis of the NDA, incorporating the principles agreed by the IGADD initiative. In
addition, the SPLM/A leadership is preparing to convene a Conference on the
development of Civil Society. These initiatives should be of great value in laying the
basis for democracy at such time as the democratic opposition groups, which represent
over 90% of the Sudanese people, resume their rightful positions of political authority.
SPECIFIC EVIDENCE OF SLAVERY
The delegation have stayed in several locations in Bahr-El-Ghazal,
including Tirole, Marial, Mayen Abun, and Nyamlell & have visited
other places such as Manyiel. They found evidence of widespread,
systematic slavery. Caroline Cox and John Eibner have:
1. taken evidence from men, women and children who have been
captured and taken into slavery;
2. talked to families whose children are currently enslaved in Northern
Sudan and heard graphic accounts of barbarities perpetrated during the
raids by Arab PDF (People's Defence Forces) against black African
towns and villages.
3. met Arab traders who described the way in which African slaves are
brought back from the North & sold to their families or, if they have no
surviving family members, to the local community administrators.
4. taken evidence from local community leaders and made resources
available to them for the redemption of a number of enslaved children.
1. EVIDENCE FROM PEOPLE WHO HAVE BEEN ENSLAVED.
(i) Aluat Majok, a young woman who had been captured as a child in a
raid in 1988 & brought back in May 1995, together with a baby son
(Bikit Osman) conceived during sexual relationships imposed by her
She had been kidnapped during a raid in 1988 & described her experiences:
"When the Arab militia came, their first target was the cattle but they also abducted
many people, killing any who resisted & concentrating mainly on women & children.
My master took 2 boys as well as her; I tried to escape but was beaten, so I
surrendered. They came on horseback.
My master's name is Osman Issa; the 2 boys who were captured with me are still
She then gave further details of her experiences: she had been taken to her master's
home in the village of Abu Jabra, where she had been used as a domestic servant,
pounding dura & collecting firewood; but when her master's wife went out to the
market, she was summoned to his room & "he took advantage of me."
She was very lonely, being ignored by the family & eating alone, whatever they chose
to give her.
She had to learn Arabic & adopt Muslim practices. She was given the Muslim name of
'Fatima' & she complied with Muslim practices out of fear but did not want to
participate in Islamic practices.
She tried to escape twice, but was caught & severely beaten. But when her master's
wife found she was pregnant & saw the baby, she asked her how she had become
pregnant. When Aluiat Majok said that it was her master who was the father, his wife
became very angry & tried to get her out of the house. In this way, she managed to
establish contact with one of the Arab traders (pseudonym 'Ibrahim' - to protect
identity: cf CSI August 1995 report), who brought her & her baby back to the South,
selling them to her family for 5 cows.
Now, she has been welcomed warmly by her family, but having had sexual relations
with her Arab master, she will not be able to marry a young Dinka husband. As many
men have been killed, she may find an old man who will be willing to marry her - but
any prospects of a 'normal' marriage are hopelessly blighted.
(ii) Two boys, Bol Kuol (aged approximately 13), & Deng Kuol
(approximately 6). The older boy had been kidnapped with his mother, who was
pregnant with his younger brother, who was born in captivity. The boys were given
Arabic names: Amma & Mohammed.
The older boy described their experiences:
They were kidnapped in 1988 from the village of Akwal Malwal during a battle.
Initially, he & his mother fled but returned when they thought it was safe to do so but
ran into another attack. They were kidnapped & his father was killed. The attack was
carried out by Arab militia - some on horseback, others on foot. When they were
caught, his mother had to walk; he was put on his master's horse. His master's name is
Mohammed Issa. When they arrived in the North, they were treated like cattle, living in
a cattle camp at Nubi; they were not provide with accommodation in a house - only
plastic sheeting. They were forced to adopt Islamic practices, although his mother
'acted stupid' & pretended she did not understand what was required of her. They also
had to speak Arabic & now his Arabic is better than his Dinka; his small brother only
speaks Arabic. They were frequently addressed as 'Abeed' ('Slave'?)
They eventually managed to escape to Mutari, where they met some of the contacts of
the trader 'Ibrahim', who helped them. The price for their freedom was stipulated by
'Ibrahim' as 5 cows or 1 automatic rifle for each (of the 2 boys & their mother). Many
members of their family had been killed in the raid & their surviving relatives have only
been able to find 3 cows, so they cannot be reunited until the remainder of the ransom
is found. If they have to return to the North, they fear they would be killed.
(NB The local civil authorities have to comply with the system & not allow the
complete release of returning slaves until then full ransom is found, because they fear
that if they do not meet demands, the supply of women & children being brought back
from the North will dry up. If there are no relatives to try to raise the ransom, the local
authorities will endeavour to find resources to purchase the freedom of returnees (cf
previous CSI report, where a local SPLA Commander had 'bought' the freedom of one
girl whose family had perished during the time of her captivity).
(iii) Aker Deng aged approximately 14, was captured, with another girl,
by Mohammed Edber in 1988. They were beaten & forced to look after cattle.
She stayed in her master's house & if ever anything was lost, she was blamed & was
beaten by her master or his son Ibrahim. She was not given clothes, only rags & fed on
sorghum, which was not always 'properly washed'. She was called by an Arabic
name 'Naima' & required to go to the mosque; if she refused, she was beaten. She said
that she did often refuse & was always beaten. She was brought back in March 1995 &
her brother paid 5 cows for her freedom (2 which the family owned & the rest were
given by other people).
N.B. We were told that the price can vary: the average is 5 cows per person, but in
some cases it can rise to a maximum of 15.
(iv) Young woman with a baby who had been born as a result of forced
sex with her Arab master. While in captivity, she had been forced to adopt Islamic
practices; when she refused she was beaten & was afraid her owners would kill her if
she refused to go to the mosque. She was not given enough food or water. She had
been returned recently, but there was no-one to pay the price for her freedom.
On Wednesday, October 25, wc walked for 3 hours to the market town of Manyiel,
where Arab traders often set up their stalls & sell merchandise (such as clothes & salt)
to the local Dinka Africans. Manyiel is a small, pleasant town in the district of Ayat. It
is also known as a place where some Arab traders bring back women & children from
the North, who have been captured & taken as slaves in raids by Arab PDF forces &
murahaleen on African towns & villages in the South.
2. EVIDENCE FROM FAMILIES WHOSE CHILDREN ARE
CURRENTLY ENSLAVED IN NORTHERN SUDAN AND FROM
OTHER VICTIMS OF RAIDS BY THE PDF.
(i) Joseph Bol, from Nyamlell:
On March 25 1995, GOS militia attacked & took us by surprise. The people scattered &
fled. Those children who were unable to run fast enough were captured. His child,
Joseph Atok, aged 6, was captured &, according to accounts from some who escaped
en route, was taken with the others to Arieth in the North. He sent his brother-in-law to
find his child. It took him a month to track down the stolen children, in a village called
Abu Simson, & his child's owner, a man called Abul Gassim Mohammed. The master
demanded a price of 5 cows or the equivalent in money, but he does not have the
resources to meet these demands:
"I have nothing. My tukul was burnt, everything I had was taken. ..The owner told my
brother-in-law to go &find the cows & then to come back for my child. But don't have
anything or any way in which I can raise the money I need. ..I have no hope of being
able to buy my child's freedom. ...I am confused & I don't know what to do."
(ii) 50-year old Akuac Amet, Nyamllel:
"I was caught in my home by the Arabs on March 25. They beat me unconscious with
a big club. Now my legs are paralysed and I can only crawl. They then shot my four
sons who were tending cattle and abducted my 14-year-old daughter Ajak. The raiders
left with all of my property. My husband died in the great famine. I am now
completely destitute. The owner of this tukul is helping me to survive. "
When we revisited Akuac Amet on this visit, we found her dying in the tukul of the
woman who had given her refuge after her ordeal. This woman is called Adut Wol
Ngor & she is currently caring for 62 victims of the March raid. She recalled that day
in words very similar to those we heard during our August visit:
"The enemy came early on March 25; this woman was too old to run; so they caught
her & beat her so badly it was impossible to know if she was alive or dead. The enemy
returned & killed her 4 sons & kidnapped her daughter. She can be returned, if the
money can be found - but there is no-one to pay the money... .1 came & took care of
this old lady & have looked after her...
About 300 people were killed... the enemy divided into 2 groups - some on horseback,
some on foot.. .We ran with the children to try to hide them in the long grass but they
found us & drove the older children away. Any who refused to go, they killed
them. ..Those who went, were tied with a rope & pulled like cows behind horses.
Some children were as little as 7 years old. Some died of thirst.. .they were not given
The families of those who were captured are still trying to find the money to pay for
their children. ..if they have no money, they can be told that their children are still alive,
but are unable to buy them back. "
When asked by a reporter how many Arabs participated in the attack, she replied:
"If you wanted to live, you didn't stay to count the horses. ..but there were several
She also expressed gratitude to CSI for coming:
"We are happy you have come to meet us, to see how we are suffering; how our
children have been taken by the enemy & how we are having to live without our
children.. .& how we have to eat fruit & grass. ..We are grateful to you for coming to
see our situation. ...Thank you for coming to us. ...We pray that God will bring our
children back to us...:
(iii) Akuil Garang, a woman aged approximately 30:
2 of her children were burnt alive in their hut during the raid; when she
tried to run away, she was attacked & suffered spear & gunshot
wounds; she fell down, & they took her 3rd child (aged 6, called Atong)
while she was unconscious. One of 'Ibrahim's' representatives has told her that
her child is still alive & she should find the money to go to fetch him home She
"But how can I ever get Atong back? I can never get the money I need to pay for him I
have nothing. We are looking for food to eat.A they ask us for these impossible sums
of money. ..It is too much for me."
(iv) Machuar Bol Akon, a man in his 30's:
He described how everyone tried to run away when the Arabs came, & attempted to
hide the children in long grass. But his 2 children (Akon Machar Bol & Kur Machar
aged approximately 6 & 12) were discovered & taken & his wife was killed. When she
tried to protect them, the militia beat her to death & then took the children from her. He
survived, because they ran in different directions. He has since heard that his children
are alive & being kept in the North, in Meiram.
(v) Noon Anguon, a sub-chief:
He was sitting under a tree when the Arabs came & they shot at him before he could
"When they attacked, they didn't differentiate between men, women & children,
between soldiers or civilians... They shot me & left me for dead. My children escaped,
but they took all my property, livestock (30 cows) & goods & they burnt my home &
my crops. I am now lame, because of my wounds & I cannot make a living; & I have
no cattle left. "
(vi) Bak Garang Lual, who had been a gate-keeper at the compound of
the NGO German Agro-Action.
He was in the compound when the militia burst in and he was shot in the shoulder. He
escaped, but four women and olne man who were caught in the compound were killed.
He said he was the only one at the compound who survived.
(vii) Deng Deng Dong, aged 12:
He speaks some English; his father was the local schoolteacher, but was killed in the
raid. He described the day:
"When the militia attacked, 1 was with my mother & we were in front of my father. He
stayed back, to make sure no-one was left behind. He was killed, & so was my uncle.
The raiders shot them dead. Those who ran quickly, got away; those who were slower,
didn't... That was the last time I saw my father alive. I cry when I think of him because
I have ost my very best father... I can't get him back again."
(viii) Apin Apin Akot came to meet us. We previously met him & his
family at Sokobat, a village 2 hours' walk away from Nyamlell. His
wife, Acai Ancook Barjok was captured with 2 of the children - Afaar
Apin Apin (aged approx. 4 years) and Akel Apin Apin (aged 9 years)
earlier this year. In our previous report, we recorded his story:
"The Arabs came at dawn and captured us; on the way they 'did what they wanted with
us'. They tied babies onto horses and our daughter has a paralysed leg as a result (cf
photo). We walked on foot for 2 days. We were taken to Meyram to a camp, where
they built a fence around us, and kept us there. We were beaten every day, any time
they felt like it. They took the girls to work. I was there for three-and-a-half months.
They took some of the girls and women to Amar (a place where slaves are traded with a
camel-owning tribe. I don't know what happened to them. I was lucky not to be taken
there. Sometimes we had to work as domestic slaves or as water carriers. I had to work
in the home of a man called Nuwer Omer. For food, we were only given unground
sorghum - no milk, no oil, nothing else. This man had 5 slave children. He still has one
of our children - a daughter aged 9, called Akel Apin Apin, because my husband did
not have enough money to pay for her release. My husband, Apin Apin Akot,
managed, at considerable risk of being caught and tortured, to obtain concrete
information about where we were. He paid an Arab informer (name supplied but not
published here, to protect sources) a bribe of £50, 000( Sudanese) for the information
and he took him to the man who was keeping his children. He asked for the release of
all his family, but the owner said that the £100,000 (Sudanese) - the equivalent of 25
cows - which was all he had managed to collect, was not enough and he therefore kept
our elder daughter, until her father could raise another £50,000 (Sudanese)."
The father had to walk 6 days to reach Meyram and a further day to find his family at
Dhelim, where slaves were kept, out of sight of authorities. He said that he saw 'many,
many' slaves in Dhelim.
Having lost all their possessions, it is hard for them to raise the money to purchase the
freedom of their 9-year-old daughter still in captivity.
3. EVIDENCE FROM ARAB TRADERS.
(i) Arab traders selling clothes in the market at Manyel, including Jacob
Bar-EI-Habib & Ali Martingale from Matarig.
They say it is a 6 days' walk to the North in the dry season & they have to avoid
checkpoints as they would be arrested by GOS forces who would not permit such
relationships with African Southerners. They claim, however, that they are "forced to
come South by famine, & need relationships with people in the South in order to
survive. ..this is the only way we can get food & water."
They described the present GOS Policy of encouraging attacks by Arab
raiders on African Southerners:
"The GOS arms militias with AK47s to fight the people in the South & to act as escorts
for the military trains taking supplies to Wau, to maintain GOS garrisons in the South.
The militia raid villages to capture Women & children & to loot whatever property they
can get. There have been many raids. Omer El Bashir & the GOS have made public the
fact that they are arming these militias., .on one occasion it was said on Omderman
Radio that about 3,000 had been recruited to fight the Egyptians... but many of them
were sent here. So the militia are certainly armed by the GOS & encouraged to develop
the slave trade."
They described the fate of those abducted into slavery:
"They take the women & children to some town near the border, such as Dhayem (?) or
further North. ..they have to work, looking after cattle, cultivating crops or as domestic
servants. For many it is a 'normal life' but inevitably some are maltreated. The children
don't understand what is happening but the adults are very unhappy. It is inevitable that
one must pay to bring people out of captivity ."
They then described the ways in which some of those who have been
adducted into slavery are brought back by Arab traders:
"Some colleagues bring back children & women who have been taken by force... if they
find children in the North, they bring them back & sell them to their families. ...this is
an expensive business, incurring a .lot of costs, such as the provision of food & water
on the journey: possibly £30,000 Sudanese (S); if they are sold for £50,000 (S), the
gross total is £80,000(S)."
These Arab traders dissociated themselves from the trading of women & children for
"This is not a good business. It is done by bad, inhuman people. Our conscience would
not allow us to deal in such business. We & the Dinkas are one people; we are brothers
& we must stick together. Historically, we have always come here & had good
They are strong supporters of Sadiq-El-Mahdi's party; they are practising Muslims &
claim they have never experienced interference when praying or had any problems
practising their religion while in the South.
(ii) Arab trader, Eleu Atak, who is one of 'Ibrahim's contacts & helps
to arrange the sale of slaves back to their families.
He claimed: >
"/ am delighted to free slaves because I feel these people are my brothers."
When asked if he had any message for his Arab brothers who captured the slaves in the
first place, he replied:
"/ would tell them that taking children by force is not a good thing. People are one; we
are all brothers. One should not take other people's children."
When asked about his share of the money obtained through any transaction related to
selling children back to their families, he replied:
"It all depends on how many people are involved. We have not fixed a percentage.
Soon 'Ibrahim' will come & we will sort it all out. "
4. EVIDENCE FROM LOCAL COMMUNITY LEADERS.
Discussions with local leaders in Bahr el Ghazal and the Nuba
fi) Local Roman Catholic catechists.
"The Northern Muslims bring clothes and food to Abyei, Babanussa and other towns
just to the north of here. The essentials are then distributed by GOS officials to attrcat
the children to government-held areas. Once they go to the North for food and clothing,
the children are put into trucks and taken to Islamic schools.
The GOS also pays Northerners to capture our children and take them to Islamic
We receive this information from our church contacts in the North.
If any part of the church feels pain, all the churches should come to help. Our pain is
that our childrenare being captured or enticed to go to the North where they have to
become Muslims to survive. The churches outside Sudan should help to stop this.
We older people can resist this Islamisation; but the children can be manipulated by
food and clothes.
Thank you for coming to help us. You are our representatives. Please go and tell the
world tfiat we are Christians and wish to remain so."
Hi) Discussion with the local SPLA Commander of Awiel West County.
Main Issues Discussed:
- The SPLA has been fighting a political war for years, to try to achieve
a united Sudan, with freedom and equality for everyone. But everyone must
understand that Unity is conditional on genuine freedom and equality for all Sudanese
people. The NIF regime came to power illegally through the military coup of 1989.
- The GOS have armed the Murahaleen to raid and abduct women and
children and to take them to the North; some end up in the northernmost parts of the
- Some boys end up in GOS military training camps, such as those at Abu
jabra, Halit, Babanussa, Mugalet and Meyram.
- Our Dinka people made a local agreement with the Rezeigat Arabs in
1990, which has created an opportunity to bring back our enslaved
children for money or for cows. ..but we don't have enough of either.
- Our arrangement with the Rezeigat Arabs doesn't encourage more slavery,
because the agreement works like this: some of these Arabs have decided that the
practice of slavery is bad, and have decided voluntarily to help us get the children back.
Perhaps 'voluntarily' is an overstatement. The Arab militiamen suffered when the
SPLA fought back and succeeded in freeing some of the children. The Arabs then
thought that this was becoming a risky business and decided to make an agreement.
This agreement fixes the price of a returned slave at five cows. If the Arabs were to
arbitrarily raise the price, they would be breaking the agreement and would suffer the
- Hundreds of children from Aweil West County are still in slevery.
Mawal Akon and Won Jok are 2 locations further to the east where there have been
recent slave raids like the one that took place here in Nyamlell last March.
- The Misiriyah Arabs were largely responsible for the raid on Nyamlell, but we know
that some Rezeigat Arabs were also involved.
- We know from our own people who travel in the North and from both captured and
allied Arabs that the GOS is supplying weapons to the Arab militias.
- Please convey this message to Western governments: Islam is being forced on us; our
children and adults who go to the North are forced to become Muslims
- We are also facing great hunger because the militias disrupt and prevent
us from cultivating and burn our crops. Many are dying of hunger and disease.
1) The institution of slavery continues on a large scale in GOS-
cont rolled areas of Sudan. The number of chattel slaves held in northern Sudan is
estimated to be in the tens of thousands.
2) GOS-backed Arab militias regularly raid black African communities
for slaves and other form of booty. The slaves, in most cases children and
young women, are taken North where they are forced to provide domestic and
agricultural labour and to provide sexual services against their will - for nothing other
than a minimum of food for survival. They are generally given Muslim names and
forced to observe Muslim rituals. Some boys are forced to attend Koranic schools or
Popular Defence Force training camps, where they are indoctrinated to become militant
Muslim zealots and trained to wage war against their own people.
3) The raids undertaken by the GOS-backed militias against the African
villages of the South are accompanied by atrocities, torture, rape,
looting and destruction of buildings and property. Captives who are
deemed unfit to serve as slaves are generally killed and/or tortured.
Men are systematically massacred.
4) Arabs of some of the Rizeigat clans who are opposed to the GOS
have ceased their raids and have signed and honoured a local agreement
with some of the Dinka chiefs calling for the return of slaves to their families in
5) Slave raids, together with conventional warfare and the denial of
humanitarian aid, are among the means used by the GOS to transform
the ethnically diverse country into an Arab, Islamic state, against the
wishes of the vast majority of its black African population. The
devastating effects of this policy are tantamount to genocide, with over 1.5
million dead and over 5 million displaced out of a total black African population of
between 6 and 8 million people. This policy of forced Islamisation and Arabisation
appears in recent years to have been most violently and systematically pursued in
northern Bahr El Ghazal and the Nuba Mountains.
6) Humanitarian aid fails to reach hundreds of thousands of victims of
war and famine. The GOS continues to refuse to give access to the UN
and NGOs to SPLA-administered areas in the Nuba Mountains and to
other areas such as Chukudum, Nimule, Pariang, Ikatos and Kongor.
Attacks by GOS-backed militias have also recently disrupted the distribution of
humanitarian aid in Panliet, Thiekthou and Panthou in northern Bahr El Ghazal.
7) The GOS is using the 'politics of hunger' as well as slavery to drive
African Southerners to the North and be subjected to enforced
8) The imbalance of military power in favour of the GOS perpetuates the
war and is a disincentive for the GOS to agree to make peace.
There is an urgent need for the international community to take a firm
stand against the practice of slavery and all other components of the
Government of Sudan's policy of genocide, involving not only
destruction of life, but also culture, language, community, religion and
This policy continues to create misery of unimaginable proportions and to give rise to
dangerous political instability in Sudan and throughout the wider international arenas.
CSI therefore calls on the international community, and in particular the member states
of the United Nations Security Council, to prevail upon the Government of Sudan to
cease hostilities against the people of the South and of the Nuba Mountains; and to
honour its voluntarily accepted human rights obligations to all its citizens, by:
1) Insisting on access for human rights monitors to visit all areas of
Sudan, under the direction of the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Sudan,
to investigate the extent of slavery and other violations of human rights and to cooperate
with the GOS in establishing a mechanism for the return of slaves to their families and
2) Insisting that all parts of Sudan should be open to access by
humanitarian aid organisations.
3) Applying pressure on the GOS to desist from supporting further slave
raids and undertaking other military offensives against the people of the
South and the Nuba Mountains, if necessary by imposing an arms and
oil embargo upon the GOS.
4) Supporting the IGADD peace process, especially the Declaration of Principles
calling for the right of self-determination, secular government and democracy.
5) Establishing a regular dialogue with representatives of Sudan's
democratic parties and supporting policies designed to promote peace and justice
for all people in Sudan.
6) Insisting that the GOS desists immediately from further military
offensives against civilians. In the event of continiuing hostilities, the inrternational
community shoud impose an arms and oil embargo against the GOS.
Unless the international community prevails upon the Government to stop trying to
impose a military 'solution' on the political problems of the South and the Nuba
Mountains, the tragedy which is already of catastrophic proportions, will escalate even
further and mean yet more horrific suffering for the people of Sudan. It may also cost
the international community a high price in terms of political instability and will
certainly create a bottomless pit of need for humanitarian aid.
Caroline Cox and John Eibner, March 1996..
■' Christian Solidarity In,
Christian Solidanty International organisation helping persecuted Christians ot
any denommaton in any country, by prayer,
PO Box 99 campaigning and practical action
Surrey KT3 3YF CSI ,s a fe 9' stereci chant y < N ° 2B ,83 ^)
and a company limited by guarantee.
Tel 0181-942 8810 mcoporated in England (Reg No J336426)
Fax 0181-942 8821
SLAVERY IN SUDAN.
Evidence to Congressional Sub-Committee Hearings, March 1996.
This evidence is based on first-hand experiences obtained during 8 visits
to Sudan over the past 4 years: 6 to Southern Sudan, including 1 to the
Nuba Mountains; 1 to the North, to meet the Government and to
territories controlled by them; and 1 to the Eritraen-Sudanese
The visits are sponsored by Christian Solidarity International (CSI), a
Human Rights organisation working for victims of repression, regardless
of their creed, colour or nationality. We focus particularly on people cut
off from the major humanitarian organisations, such as UNHCR,
UNICEF, ICRC which can only visit places with the permission of a
sovereign government. Being independent, we can go to people bereft of
aid and advocacy.
On the basis of eye-witness evidence and first-hand accounts, we testify
to gross violations of Human Rights, inflicted and/or encouraged by the
Government of Sudan. They include:
1. Widespread & systematic slavery of men, women and children.
Government troops and Government-backed Popular Defence Forces
(PDF) regularly raid black African communities for slaves and other
forms of booty. The slaves, in most cases children and young women, are
taken North where they are forced to provide domestic and agricultural
labour and sexual services against their will - for nothing other than a
minimum of food for survival. Those who are Christians are generally
given Muslim names and forced to observe Muslim rituals. Some boys
are forced to attend Koranic schools or PDF training camps, where they
are trained to wage war against their own people.
Board of Management: Da vid Atkinson MP (President), Mervyn Thomas (Chairman]. Rl Hon Lord Archer ol Sandwel! OC The Baroness Cox. R,?v Brian
Edwards. Franklin Evans. Rev Terry Hantord. Rt Rev Richard Hare. Graham Horsnell. Ernest Letand. Hector McKenzie. Rev Hans StUckelberger (tnt
President Switzerland). Rachel Tingle. Rev John Wildnanne
Board ot Reference: Lord Ashbourne. Rl Hon Michael Alison MP. Rev Richatd Bewes. Lord Brame ol Wheatley. PC DL. Viscount Brentford Alislair Burl
MP. Lord Coggan. Simon Hughes MP Rev Or Gilbert Kirby. Rev Oatydd Owen. Rev W Martin Smyth MP. Viscount Tonypandy
Sources of evidence:
1. In Northern Bahr-El-Ghazal, we stayed on 3 occasions in the town
of Nyamllel, and walked to surrounding villages and to the market town
of Many el, where Arab traders bring back slaves, to sell them to their
(i) We have met many people who have been enslaved, who have
escaped or been brought back by Arab traders, and taken their
testimonies, which are published in the accompanying documentation,
(ii) We have spoken to the Arab traders who have described in detail
how they bring back women and children from the North to sell them to
their families, for sums of money averaging £5000(Sudanese), or for
goods such as livestock (average price per slave is 5 head of cattle),
(iii) We have seen the evidence of barbarities perpetrated during the
slave raids by Government and PDF forces against black African towns
and villages: scars caused by torture of men and women, especially the
elderly, who are not taken as slaves; looting, pillaging and destruction of
buildings, including homes, churches and clinics; and the burning of
2. In the Nuba Mountains, we met women and children who had been
detained in the 'Peace Camps' organised by the Government, or in
Government garrisons. Some had been captured in military attacks on
their villages; others had been forced to go to Government-controlled
areas to seek food or medicines for survival. Once there, they were forced
to renounce their Christian names, to adopt Muslim names and practices,
and were subjected to sexual abuse and forced labour. Detailed case
studies are published in the accompanying documents.
3. In the Eritrean-Sudanese borderlands, we met boys and young men
belonging to the Beja people, who gave evidence of their abduction and
enforced conscription to the Government Army to fight against the
people of the South and the Nuba Mountains. We have personal
testimonies from those who have been captured for this purpose but who
managed to escape.
In all places we visited, Christian and Muslim community leaders, civil
administrators, professional personnel and military commanders gave
detailed accounts of violations of Human Rights by the Government as
part of their policies of subjugation of the people of the South and the
Nuba Mountain, including systematic slavery and forced labour, the use
of hunger to force people to leave their homes to seek food, and the
manipulation of aid as a means of enforced Islamisation.
These policies need to be seen in the wider context of other violations of
Human Rights perpetrated^ by the regime, including ground and aerial
offensives against civilians. Overall, 1.5 million people have died and
over 5 million have been displaced in the recent years of this civil war.
It must also be remembered that the Government is oppressing many
Muslim people in the North: the non-Arab Muslim Beja people and Arab
Muslims who oppose the regime in Khartoum. During our visit to
Northern Sudan and also to Cairo, we have taken evidence from many
who had suffered unlawful arrest, detention, maltreatment and severe
torture at the hands of the regime n Khartoum.
1 The Government's policy towards the people of the South and the
Nuba mountains is tantamount to genocide, by means of terror, war,
slavery, the mass displacement of the population and the manipulation of
aid. In particular, widespread, systematic slavery continues on a large
scale in Government-controlled areas of Sudan.
2. The raids by Government troops and Government-backed PDF
militia against African towns and villages of the South and Nuba
Mountains are accompanied by atrocities, torture, rape, looting and
destruction of buildings and property. Those not taken into slavery are
generally killed and/or tortured.
4. Humanitarian aid fails to reach hundreds of thousands of victims
of war and famine. The Government continues to refuse to give
access to the UN and NGOs to SPLA-administered areas in the Nuba
Mountains and to other areas in the South. This denial of access,
combined with the Government's manipulation of aid in the areas it
controls, causes massive suffering and is used to create hunger as a
weapon in its policy of enforced migration, facilitating its programme of
enslavement and forced labour.
The time has come for the international community to take a firmer stand
against the Government's policies of slavery and genocide, in the broader
sense, involving not only destruction of life, but also culture, language,
community, religion and ethnic identity.
CSI therefore calls on the international community, and in particular the
member states of the United Nations Security Council, to prevail upon
the Government of Sudan:
1. To cease hostilities against the people of the South and of the Nuba
Mountains. If the Government continues to undertake military offensives
against the people of the South and the Nuba Mountains, we call for an
arms and oil embargo upon the Government and for air exclusion zones
to protect the civilian population from aerial bombardment.
2. To honour its voluntarily accepted human rights obligations to all
3. To allow access for human rights monitors to all areas of Sudan,
under the direction of the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights
in Sudan. These monitors could investigate the extent of slavery and
other violations of Human Rights. If the Government in Khartoum has
nothing to fear, it should have no reservations about allowing such
4. To allow access to all parts of Sudan to access by humanitarian aid
CSI also urges the international community to support the IGADD
peace process, especially the Declaration of Principles calling for the
right of self-determination, secular government and democracy; to
establish regular dialogue with representatives of Sudan's
democratic opposition, which represents over 90 percent of the
population; and to encourage the NDA as it seeks to develop policies to
promote peace and justice for all people in Sudan.
Unless the international community succeeds in preventing the
Government of Sudan from continuing its brutal programmes and
policies, the tragedy which is already of catastrophic proportions, will
escalate even further and mean yet more horrific suffering for the people
of Sudan. This tragedy will certainly create a bottomless pit of need for
humanitarian aid and may also cost the international community a high
price in terms of political instability.
Caroline Cox, March 1996.
Dr. Gaspar Biro
United Nations Commission on Human Rights
Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Sudan
March 12, 1996
House Committee on International Relations
Subcommittee on International Operations and Human Rights
Subcommittee on Africa
Since 1993, when I have undertaken my mandate as a Special Rapporteur of the UN Commission on
Human Rights I received numerous report* and information, and collected do2«nc of eye witness
testimonies indicating that contemporary forms of slavery, including the slave trade, forced labor and
servitude are widespread and systematic practices condoned and tacitly approved by the Government
ofthe Sudan (GOS)
I would like to share with you some of the evidence that I discovered supporting this conclusion.
Different paramilitary units are fighting together with the army in Southern Sudan and the Nuba
Mountain*. These paramilitary units include the Popular Defense Forces (PDF), created in November
1 989, groups of volunteers called muraheleen and Arab tribal militia*, armed and controlled by the
GOS. Numerous reports and testimonies received during my missions to the Sudan and neighbouring
countries with hundreds of thousands of Sudanese refugees indicate that members of these groups are
carrying out systematically abductions of civilians during oi after military operations. They are also
providing armed guards for places where the victims ore temporarily held and are also in charge of
their transportation to their final destinations. A high ranking PDF commander from KadugH (Nuba
Mountains) confirmed to me for example during an official meeting in 1993, that his troops are given
orders to collect and transport civilians from the SPLA (Sudan Peoples Liberation Army) held areas to
OOS run refugee camps after taking over villages from the rebels. There is evidence also on cases
when army officers captured and brought with theni to Northern Sudan Southerner children as ser-
vants in their households .
The vast majority of the victims are women and children belonging to ethnic, racial and religious
minorities and indigenous African tribes from Southern Sudan and the Nuba Mountains area. Women
and girls are used as concubines and are forced to work for soldiers. Several cases of rape were
reported even in camps for displaced run by GOS or organizations working with the GOS in
Kordomn area Boys and young men are used mainly as servants. There are reports, and my own
findings in the Nuba Mountains confirmed these reports that a number of people are obliged to work
on large agricultural schemes run by individual landowners close to the OOS. The most exposed of all
these categories of victims are members of the Dinka tribe living in Northern Bahr al G nazal, espe-
cially the Dinka-Gogrial I received during my September 1993 visit toWau, the capital of the former
Bahr al G nazal state, dramatic eyewitness accounts on these practices. In the camps for displaced
Dinka, situated around Wau. I have talked to people, mainly women, children and elderly who were in
the worst shape I have ever seen human beings in my life.
Inhuman and degrading treatment of the victims by their captors is widespread. Many victims of the
mentioned violations and abuses are forcibly converted to Islam and are given Arabic names, but even
with that, in many instances their treatment is not improved
Local and central authorities arc all well aware of this phenomena. In a number of cases the relatives
of those abducted or local chiefs arc making serious efforts to retrieve their relatives, sometimes with
success. Local authorities arc usually contacted but do not intervene, even if the owner is identified and
his uamc is inchoated to them. In a few instances deals were reached between the owner or the captor
and the claimants, and victims were released for compensation in money or goods. It is to be noted that
according to the 1991 Sudanese Criminal Act abduction (art. 161), kidnapping (art. 162), forced labor
( 1 63), unlawful confinement ( 1 64) and unlawful detention (1 65) are considered crimes. 1 am not aware
however of any trial by a Sudanese court in such cases during the past years. It is also to be mentioned
that the Sudan is for decades a signatory party to both the 1926 Slavery Convention and the Supple-
mentary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery, the Slave Trade, and Institutions ard Practices Similar
to Slavery (1956).
Taking into account all these circumstances, I cannot but repeat my conclusions from the last report to
the UN General Assembly in November 1 995 : the abduction of persons, mainly women and children
belonging to racial, ethnic and religious minorities from Southern Sudan, their subjection to the slave
trado, including truffle in and sale of children and women, slavery, servitude, forced labor and similar
practices are taking place with the knowledge of the GOS. The manifest p M ,ivity of the GOS in this
regard after years of reporting and calls upon it by United Nations organs and international non-
governmental organizations affiliated with the UN, and the subsequent lack of any measure* to protect
Sudanese c.Uzcna from these practices lead to the conclusion that abductions, slavery and institutions
similar to slavery are carried out by persons acting under the authority and with the tacit approval of
the GOS. The fact that the abductions take place mostly in a war-affected area is to be considered as a
particularly aggravating circumstance
Belle Bao Lord
Chairman of the Board
Max M. Kampelman
Ned W. Bandler
TESTIMONY OF DR. KEVIN VIGILANTE, M.D., REPRESENTATIVE
PUEBLA PROGRAM ON RELIGIOUS FREEDOM
HOUSE COMMITTEE ON INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
SUBCOMMITTEES ON INTERNATIONAL OPERATIONS AND HUMAN
March 13, 1996
Freedom House congratulates the Sub-Committees on International
Operations and Human Rights and on Africa for holding hearings on one of the
most shameful, yet hidden, human rights atrocities of our times — the practice
of slavery. I am Dr. Kevin Vigilante, a physician and physician and a member
of the medical faculty of Brown University where I care for HIV infected
women, who led a fact-finding investigation to Khartoum and northern Sudan a
year ago for the Puebla Program on Religious Freedom of Freedom House.
Milchell E. Daniels. Jr.
Palncia Murphy Derian
William C. Doherty.Jr
Malcolm S. Forbes. Jr
Theodore J. Forstmann
Samuel P Hununglon
John T- Joyce
Jeane J. Kirkpalnck
Edward I. Koch
Monon M. Kondracke
John Nonon Moore
Charles Morgan, Jr.
Susan Kaufman Purccll
Burns W Roper
Wendell L. Willkie II
Jacques D- Wimpfneime
Sudan, Africa's largest country, has been plagued with instability,
famine and civil strife since gaining independence from England and Egypt in
the late 1950s. In 1989. Gen. Omar Hassan al-Bashir seized power from the
democratically-elected civilian regime and developed a partnership with
Islamic extremist Hassan al-Turabi and his National Islamic Front. Turabi is
determined to make Sudan Africa's first true Islamic state and has been
encouraging a "holy war," or Jihad, against the largely Christian and animist
population in southern Sudan. Sudan ranks at the very bottom of Freedom
House's 1996 Freedom in the World Survey. Sudan is characterized by the
total or near complete absence of civil liberties and political rights.
The rebellion is fighting the government's attempt to divide the
southern region, the homeland of the country's sizeable Christian population,
and impose Sharia, Islamic law. on the non-Muslim population. The
government's scorched-earth and forced-starvation tactics as it prosecutes its
war over one-sixth of the country, in the southern non-Muslim part, has
resulted in the deaths of over 1.3 million people, and the displacement of more
than three million, mostly Christian and non-Muslim people. More Christians
and non-Muslims have died in Sudan than all the people in Bosnia. Chechnya
and Haiti, combined.
NEW YORK. NY 101*
To eradicate the Christian and non-Muslim population, the Sudanese government and its
agents have bombed, burned and looted southern villages; massacred civilians; enslaved women
and children; kidnaped and forcibly converted Christian and other boys and sent them to the front
as cannon fodder; relocated entire villages into concentration camps, called "peace villages,"
withheld food aid to starving Christian and animist communities until they converted to Islam.
Individual Christians, including clergy, have over the past few years, also been assassinated,
imprisoned, tortured, and flogged for their faith.
Today Freedom House's focus will be on two unique aspects of the persecution of
Christians and others -- slavery and the slave-like practice of abducting non-Muslim children,
interning them in high security camps where the are forced to convert to Islam and then prepared
for battle. I'll refer to these camps as cultural cleansing camps because the children's cultural
identities are stripped away inside the camps.
I investigated these abominable practices on my trip to Sudan and interviewed former
slaves and children retrieved from cultural cleansing camps and their families. I wish to note that
though Muslims living in non-Muslim areas are also affected, slavery in Sudan is
disproportionally directed against Christians and other non-Muslims.
"Turabi's dream is to repopulate the south with Muslims," explains Aldo Deng-Akuey,
the former deputy speaker of the Sudanese National Assembly, who knew and worked closely
with Turabi until he defected in December 1993. in this month's issue of the Reader's Digest'.
"Slavery is a weapon that serves their political objective. Land is the prize," he stated. UN
Rapporteur Biro observed in the October report that "since February 1994 there has been an
alarming increase in the number of reports and information emanating from a large variety of
sources on cases of slavery, servitude, slave trade and forced labor." Slavery not only exists in
Sudan, but it is increasing and becoming institutionalized.
In Sudan, it is possible to buy a human being for as little as SI 5. Small villages in
southern Sudan are raided and the local men are killed, property either confiscated or destroyed.
The women and children are abducted and transferred north to be sold into slavery as servants,
housekeepers and concubines. In a 1994 report to the United Nations Commission on Human'
Rights, special rapporteur Gaspar Biro cited the locations of camps where "people from northern
Sudan or even from abroad" reportedly come to buy captured Christians and animists as slaves.
To prevent the captured Christians from escaping, they are branded or mutilated. A Southern
Christian boy told me that he was enslaved by an Arab master who cut the achilles tendons of
male slaves who did not convert to Islam. The boy converted to Islam as to avoid this fate and
he later managed to escape. A young Christian girl I interviewed displayed a large scar on her
thigh that she said was the mark of a brand she received while enslaved for a Muslim master in
The slave industry in Sudan even earns a profit by selling children back to their families.
The going rate is five head of cattle per child, sometimes ten for a boy. A typical example of
this, reported by Brian Eads of the Reader's Digest, involved Kuany Akot, whose village was
raided when he was a baby. His father was killed and his mother was sold as a domestic servant.
Kuany was renamed Mohammed and raised as a Muslim in the same household where his
mother worked. When Kuany was five, his mother arranged for a Muslim slave trader to take
him south where her family would pay for his release. The slave trader agreed and received five
cows (about $400) from Kuany's aunt and uncle.
Bishop Macram Mas Gassis. the international spokesman for the Catholic Bishops'
Conference of Sudan, has reported that almost 30.000 children in the Nuba mountains -- the site
of his own diocese — have been sold into slavery with the explicit approval of the Sudanese
government. Bishop Gassis has been active in raising money in Europe, where he is in exile, to
buy back the children of the villages in El Obeid, his diocese.
Fighting in the south has resulted in the mass migration to Khartoum of hundreds of
thousands of people. They squat in shanty villages surrounding the city, and the Puebla Program
estimates that from these villages and downtown streets, thousands of children have been
snatched by government forces.
In early 1995, when I and the Puebla delegation, which was also sponsored by Dorkas
Aid International, made our investigation, we were the first human rights group to enter northern
Sudan in over a year. Our team documented widespread government-sponsored abductions and
disappearances of children, and a campaign of "cultural cleansing" targeted at African Christians
and animists. The children, many with families, had been snatched by government agents from
public places in the capital and other northern cities and summarily detained in juvenile camps.
Some of the Christian children who had been retrieved by their families described high-security,
closed camps in remote areas, where they were given new Arabic names, indoctrinated in Islam,
and forced to undergo military-style of training. The ultimate fate of the incarcerated children is
uncertain, but the evidence strongly suggests they were going to be pressed into battle. Within
the camps, disease was rampant and food scarce. The government refused access to international
relief and church groups that sought to provide assistance to these children.
I returned with numerous statements from the children who had been retrieved and their
families. While government officials in Khartoum told me that the round up of children and the
internment of them in juvenile camps were welfare measures taken for the children's own good,
as these children were homeless and living on the street, we found that many of the children had
families caring for them. A few examples follow:
During a kasha (a government roundup) in 1993, Mary's two sons, aged six and nine,
were taken by the military. After three months of searching for the two boys, Mary, an African
Christian, found them at a camp near the town of Fau. She was allowed to walk through the
camp only once to try to find her children. Mary found her children who were both dressed in
damuria, the characteristic dress of those undergoing Popular Defense Force training. The two
boys described being treated harshly, given new Arabic names, and being forced to learn Islam.
A 13-year-old African Christian boy was stopped by police on his way home from school
on December 27. 1993. When the boy failed to produce his school ID card, he was taken by-
security forces to a camp at Soba. near Khartoum. Later he was transferred to another camp. Abu
Dom. The boy described this camp as a religious training center with a fence. He was forced to
perform manual labor and to recite the Koran. His father was finally able to locate and retrieve
him with the help of a friend in the police.
A 13-year-old Christian Dinka boy from the city of Aweil told about his capture in 1992.
At that time he lived with his parents at a displaced persons camp in Omdurman:
"In 1992 while my father was in the hospital my mother sent me to the market for
tomatoes where I was captured. I showed them the money I was given and tried to explain
myself but no one listened to me. I was put into a police truck with many other black boys and
taken away. We spent seven days in Khartoum where we were beaten often. Then we were
taken to Fau [the childrens' cultural cleansing camp]. I was beaten again when I tried to escape
from the camp. We were treated very badly at the camp. We were awakened at 4:00 in the
morning and forced to pray aloud, memorizing Koranic verses by heart. All day we alternated
between Islamic training and military marching. If one made a mistake, he was beaten and the
rest were punished with him."
A 1 7-year-old Dinka Christian boy from Rumbek was caught in a kasha with other boys
at the cinema Watania Gharbi. They were assembled with over 500 other youths at Dar Bashair
(Abu Dijana and Ebeid Khatim camps) and then taken to Durdeib, a military camp in Port Sudan.
The young Dinka reported that they were promised training in mechanics and carpentry, but only
offered Islamic, Arabic language and military training. Gifts were offered to entice the boys to
convert to Islam, but if they refused, more forceful measures were used. The boys were informed
that they must be made Muslims by any means. This young man spent 14 months at the Durdeib
camp and then transferred to the Fau camp to help with military training of boys. Soon after
arriving at Fau he escaped.
The government maintains a policy of extreme secrecy concerning the camps, virtually
sealing them off from the outside world. Though the government had refused my request for
permission to visit the camps, I managed to visit a detention camp for children in Fau near Wad
Medani. Located in the desert about 180 miles east of Khartoum, the camp, which could
accommodate approximately 200 boys, consisted of crude huts with no access to running water
or sanitation facilities. I interviewed camp guards and local villagers who informed me that the
children had been taken away several months prior, but I was unable to determine where the
children had been taken. They had joined the ranks of the thousands of disappeared African
children in Sudan.
UN Special Rapporteur Biro concluded in his Oct. 1995 report that "the total passivity of
the government after having received information for years regarding this situation can only be
interpreted as tacit political approval and support of the institution of slavery and the slave
trade." In its fact-finding in northern Sudan. Puebla found that not only is the government
indifferent to the pleas of families trying to retrieve their abducted children but has made threats
against them and raised other obstacles in the face of their efforts to find their children.
Imprisoning children in juvenile camps is a naked policy of cultural cleansing to change the
identity of those targeted from being Christian or animist to Muslim. The responsibility of
Khartoum for the enslavement and cultural cleansing of Christians and others can no longer be
In conclusion, Freedom House makes four observations and recommendations.
The President should speak out forcefully against the scourges of chattel slavery
and slave-like practices in Sudan. The silence of the West in the face of mounting
evidence of ongoing slavery must be broken. The Administration has dramatically and
effectively turned the world spotlight on Sudan over the issue of terrorism; it should now
give the same priority to the grave human rights abuse of slavery.
The Administration should ensure that the issue of slavery of the basic type
practiced in Sudan today is raised at all future international and United Nations forums
where the protection of women, children and minorities is raised. Last fall at the UN
Fourth World Women's Conference held in Beijing, the Administration passed by an
important opportunity for the issue of slavery in Sudan to be addressed . Though women
are one of the principal victims of the slave trade in Sudan, chattel slavery was not an
issue of discussion or even a key word in the document adopted at the World Conference
on Women. In over 120 pages of the Platform for Action, slavery is only referred to as
"sexual slavery" and nothing was mentioned concerning the very real slave trade that
takes place in Sudan today.
The President should ensure that a directive is immediately issued to the
Immigration and Naturalization Service acknowledging mounting persecution against
Christians and non-Muslims in Sudan, as well as other countries, and instructing INS
officers to process the claims of escapees from such persecution with priority and
diligence. The INS has shown a general indifference towards Christians fleeing Sudan,
who are seeking asylum because of religious persecution. A Sudanese Catholic, whom
I'll name Mr. M for his own safety, has been detained in the U.S. for the last three years
while his case is being processed. Mr. M worked with aid workers, missionaries, and
particularly with Mark Genner as a translator in Southern Sudan. When Sudanese
authorities executed Mark Genner in 1992, Catholic Bishop Paride Taban advised Mr. M
that his life was in danger and should flee Sudan. A INS court has denied Mr. M's
request for asylum partly based on his failure to explain the doctrine of
"transubstantiation." He is currently appealing this decision. That this Christian should
be encountering difficulties in obtaining asylum in the U.S. is an outrageous injustice.
UN Ambassador Madeleine Albright should monitor closely and press for the
effective implementation of a potentially important new program in Sudan by the UN
childrens' agency UNICEF. Under international pressure from the publication of the
Puebla report and the Special Rapporteur's findings. Sudan allowed UNICEF to initiate
last fall a family-reunification program for boys who had been abducted and detained in
the cultural cleansing camps for juveniles described in my testimony. UNICEF has
experienced many delays in proceeding with the program and is confining its work to
only one camp. The U.S. should ensure that UNICEF's work in this regard is thorough
and expedient, and work to expand the project to retrieving and reuniting with their
families children sold into slavery.
A Testimony on
ARAB SLAVERY IN SUDAN
AUGUSTTNE A LADO
PAX SUDANI NETWORK
P O Box 15118
Cleveland, Ohio (US A) 44 1 1 5
Presented before a Joint Hearing of the Subcommittee on International Operations and Human
Rights and Subcommittee on Africa, both of the House Committee on International Relations,
March 13, 1996
To most people in the Western world, slavery is a thing of the past Although its legacy
continues to be debated in this country, it is generally believed that this despicable system would
not have any place in the twentieth century But in the Sudan and Mauritania, the slave trade and
slavery of Africans by Arabs not only exists to this day, it is raging at an alarming rate In the
Sudan, slavery constitutes a silent (and I must say, hidden) tragedy whose genocidal effects
surpass the recent atrocities in Rwanda, Somalia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina combined The
practice of slavery actually never stopped in Sudan Since their invasion of Sudan, Arabs have
always pillaged our villages for young men, women and children who are then sold into slavery
They employed, scorched-earth attacks (or ghazwas), including burning down whole villages
(usually in the middle of the night), destroying farmlands, crops and livestock Through the
deracinating machinery of Arab slavery, which reached a peak in the nineteenth century, whole
African societies were decimated Many millions of Africans perished and millions more were
sold into slavery in the Arab world What is happening in Sudan today is a continuation of this
brutal and heinous system of Arab slavery and cultural hegemony and imperialism to which the
world has turned a deaf ear and blind eye
As we speak today, our villages in South Sudan, the Nuba Mountains, and Southern Blue
Nile Province are being burned down by Arab troops, boys and girls are being kidnapped by Arab
militias (or so-called Popular Defense Forces), women are being raped by government soldiers,
and old men and women are either shot in cold blood or left to perish from starvation and disease
The situation is especially horrific in the Nuba Mountains and northern Bahr el-Ghazal regions
which have literally been sealed off from the rest of the world by the present Khartoum regime of
Lt General Hassan el-Bashir These African regions, which immediately border the Misseriya and
Reizigat Arabs of Kordofan region (who have in the past and present times been notorious for
their slave-raiding operations ), have been sorely depopulated Their property —animal and other
material wealth— has been ransacked and either looted or destroyed A large number of Arab
merchants (or Jellaba) have moved into and occupied the fertile farmlands of Bahr el-Ghazal and
the Nuba Mountains, forcibly displacing the Africans from their ancestral lands In addition to
physical and cultural loss, the ownership and sale of Africans, the denial of their fundamental
human freedoms, and their forcible relocation into desert lands in northern Sudan by Arab slavers
have inflicted incalculable damage on their psyche, dignity and self-esteem
Slavery is as much an intricate part of Arab Sudanese's present as it is of their past The
Arabs have built empires, kingdoms and chiefdoms (or sultanates) with African slave labor
Although a full historical account of the institution of slavery in Sudan is beyond the scope of this
presentation, a few highlights should suffice to establish the point for our purposes here
The Turko-Egyptian conquest of the Sudan led by the Egyptian viceroy, Mohammed Ali
in 1821, was undertaken primarily to supply slaves from the African populations of the Nubian
and other kingdoms in the Sudan After the abolition of slave trade and slavery in Egypt in the
1870s, the Egyptian Khedive, Ismail Pasha, enlisted the services of European army commanders.
including Sir Samuel Baker, Charles George Gordon, and Romolo Gessi Pasha to suppress the
slave trade in the Sudan This strategy backfired, however, as it was construed by Arabs and
Muslim slavers as an act of foreign aggression designed to undermine the spread of Islam in the
Sudan Thus, the ensuing revolt led by Mohammed Ahmed el-Mahdi, which culminated in the
creation of the Mahdist state in 1885, was as much a resistance against Western imperialism as it
was a resistance against abolitionism
The Condominium Treaty of 1898, which provided for joint Egyptian and British rule in
the Sudan, had as one of its goals, to put an end to slave trade and slavery Whereas the
trafficking in human cargo across borders was significantly suppressed, slavery and slave trade
within the country continued unabated Senior British officers in the Sudan Civil Service
maintained double standards On the one hand, they reported to their Foreign Office in Britain
that they had effectively suppressed the slave trade and slavery in the Sudan On the other hand,
they permitted Arabs in the Sudan to raid and burn down African villages to capture slaves
Senior British officers, cognizant of public outcry in Britain, camouflaged slavery in the Sudan,
referring to slaves as "servants," and to Arab slavers as "masters " For instance, Slatin Pasha,
who served as inspector-general of the Sudan, maintained the view that slaves were "godforsaken
swine who do not deserve to be treated like free and independent men In a stern warning to one
of his subordinates, he stated "if in an official document I find again that he calls Sudanese
servants 'slaves', a finger from his right hand will be cut off"
Since the Sudan gained political independence from the British in 1956, the policies of the
successive Arab regimes have ranged from tacit condonation to overt support and involvement in
slavery During the first civil war (1955-1972), the Sudan government forcibly recruited a large
number of Africans from the Nuba Mountains and Northwestern Bahr el-Ghazal regions into the
national army These "slave army" were deployed on the front-line to fight the Southern Sudan
Liberation Movement (SSLM) that sought cessation from the rest of the country During the
brief period of relative peace (1972-1983), slave trade and slavery continued, Misseriya and
Reizigat Arabs in Kordofan mounted constant raids on the Dinka and other African ethnicities in
Bahr el-Ghazal and Nuba Mountains for slaves and cattle The Khartoum government, then under
President Jafaar al-Nimeiri took no measures to punish the perpetrators and bring an end to
slavery in the regions
Slavery increased in scale and intensity at the outbreak of the second civil war, following
the unilateral repeal, by the Nimeiri regime of the Addis Ababa Agreement which gave the people
of Southern Sudan a regional self-government After a series of successes by the Sudan People's
Liberation Army (SPLA) over the national army, the ostensibly democratic government of Prime
Minister Sadiq el-Mahdi pursued a policy of genocide by extermination of the Dinka and other
African tribes in Southern Sudan and Nuba Mountains who were sympathetic to the SPLA The
government exploited age-old ethnic animosities by rearming the Rizeigat and Misseriya Arabs of
Kordofan with sophisticated weapons to raid, loot, and destroy Southern Sudanese homelands,
pillaging for slaves, cattle and other booty Further, the government refused to fully investigate
and bring these Arab militia for flagrant atrocities committed against the African in these regions
In 1987, Drs Ushari Mahmoud and Suleyman Ali Baldo of the University of Khartoum
documented the Diein massacre, in which 1,500 Dinka were burnt to death in train wagons and
another 7000 or more taken as slaves by the Reizigat and Misseriya Arabs Instead, the
government of Sadiq el-Mahdi responded by arresting these two scholars and human rights
activists and detained them for several years without trial
The current government of Lt General Omer Hassan el-Bashir has declared an Islamic
Holy War or Jihad on non-Muslim Africans in the Sudan This tactical move was intended to
achieve several purposes, among them are the following ( 1 ) By framing the current civil war as
an attack by non-Muslims against Muslims, the Sudan government thought it would attract
military support from the Arab and Muslim world To that effect, the government of el-Bashir
has succeeded in garnering military support from Iraq, Iran, Libya, and Yemen, and other Arab
and/or Muslim countries (2) The Sudan government would effectively deflect world attention
from the slavery issue, and vigorously prosecute war with the SPLA Furthermore, the
government denies international relief (food, medical, and other essential services) to the African
civilians in the south and refugees in the north This leaves many millions of African men, women,
and children vulnerable to enslavement or death by starvation
Ideology of Arab Slavery and Hegemony
A number of factors combine to shape the ideology of slavery in the Sudan in the past and
in the present, three most salient of which are cultural, religious, and racial factors Sudan is
characterized by diverse cultures, religions, races and languages However this diversity is
generally understood in the context of two broad cleavages — Arab and Africa Since
independence, the successive regimes in Khartoum have defined Sudan culturally as an Arab and
Muslim nation and have adopted policies for forcibly converting the non-Arab people in South
Sudan, the Nuba Mountains, and Ingessana Hills into Arabs and Muslims For example, Sadiq el-
Mahdi, former Prime Minister of the Sudan put it bluntly
Islam should influence the whole of Africa hut there is a conspiracy in East Africa. Here
people believe they are Negroes, different from Arabs and must project their own
personality and follow their own way. This underlies the affairs in the South (which is
black African) at present ... the South is a step-board for Arab entry and Islamic
influence into the heart of Africa.
Additionally, a prominent member of the Khatmiyya Islamic sect, Ali Abd al-Rahman in a
parliamentary session once stated with characteristic arrogance that "the Sudan is an integral part
of the Arab world and as such must accept the leadership of the two [Islamic] religious leaders,
anyone dissenting from this view must quit the country " More recently, Lt General Omer
Hassan el-Bashir, current military leader of the Sudan, maintains that "Arabism without Islam will
degenerate into tribalism "
With respect to race, a kind of one-blood-drop rule applies in discerning racial cleavages
Whereas in Anglo-Saxon cultural contexts this rule is applied to maintain racial exclusivity, in the
Sudan, it is applied to camouflage racial imperialism and cultural chauvinism Professor Ali
Mazrui illustrates the racial distinctions in Sudan as follows "With the Arabs, the child is Arab
without reservations If we visualize an Arab marrying a Nilotic woman in the fourteenth century
and visualize [a] son being born, the son would be Arab If we imagined in turn that the son again
married a Nilotic woman who bore a son — this son too, would be an Arab If we then assumed
that the process is repeated, generation after generation, until a child is born in the second half of
the twentieth century with only a drop of his blood still ostensibly of Arab derivation and the rest
of his blood indubitably Nilotic, the twentieth century child is still an Arab " What this illustration
conceals, however, is that in Sudan, the relationship between Arabs in the north and Africans in
the south has historically and in present been an adversarial one, that the hybrid race resulting
from this process has always looked at African culture and skin color as inferior to Arab culture
and race, and, therefore, at the Africans as enslavable people
A Call to Action
In light of the foregoing, we are calling on the United States Congress and Government to
lead an international campaign to abolish slavery in Sudan and Mauritania Specifically, the US
congress should adopt a binding resolution calling for the abolition of all forms of slavery in
Sudan and Mauritania Further, the U S representative to the United Nations should bring to the
table a U N Security Council Resolution authorizing member states to impose a comprehensive
economic and military embargo against Sudan Since the Sudan Government has shown an
unwillingness to take measures directed at ending slavery, and since it has blocked the U N
Special Rapporteur on human rights from conducting investigations on slavery in the Sudan, it is
time for the international community to take much stronger actions In the case of Mauritania, the
U S should introduce a Security Council resolution to appoint a Special Rapporteur on human
rights to systematically investigate slavery and other human rights abuses in Mauritania and render
a comprehensive report to the U N General Assembly
Furthermore, the US Congress should continue to support regional peace initiatives such
as the Inter-Governmental Authority for Drought and Development (IGADD) whose "Declaration
of Principles," recognizes, among other things, the fundamental right to self-determination for the
people of Southern Sudan. Nuba Mountains, and Southern Blue Nile Province, a right that is
enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights It is time the international community
recognized that slavery and the dehumanization of Africans cannot and will not be abolished
through a peaceful solution to the ongoing war within the framework of a unitary Sudan Only
through partitioning of the country can African Sudanese rid themselves of Arab slavery and
That the present regime of the National Islamic Front has turned Sudan into a pariah state
that is heavily involved in international terrorism, and in destabilizing its neighbors cannot be
overemphasized What has escaped the world consciousness is the internal terrorism that this
regime is imposing on Africans in Sudan which, in turn, fuels the ongoing slavery and slave trade
Therefore, a concerted action of the world community is needed to stamp out slavery in Sudan
Sudan People' Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A)
1717 Massachusetts Avenue NW # 701
Washington DC 20036
Phone 202-347 3507 Fax 3418
Dear Madam / Sir,
RE: SLAVERY AND SLAVE TRADE IN SUDAN
The Sudan Peoples' Liberation Movement has learned with satisfaction of the
forthcoming Congressional hearing on slavery and slave trade in Sudan.
We wish to confirm that the practice of slave raiding and the institution of slavery in the
Sudan re- emerged in the mid-1980s after the scrapping of the Southern Regional
Government and the resumption of military conflict in the Sudan. The scale and nature
of the slave industry in Sudan is massive, vicious, cruel , and dehumanizing. We are
confident that independent witnesses will adduce sufficient corroborative evidence to this
The present fundamentalist Islamic regime in Sudan is the chief promoter, merchant and
practitioner of slave raiding, trading, export and keeping. State institutions like the army
and paramilitary formations carry out the raids. Women and children are sold to Islamic
Party supporters as domestic chattels and 'conveniences' . Men are used in agricultural
schemes as unpaid labor. 'Surplus' slaves are exported to nighboring Arab countries.lt
would be difficult for individuals to smuggle humans accross the borders without the
tacit agreement of the regime.
The government of Omer Beshir and Hassan Turabi is in the slave business because it is
consistent with their military agenda of de-populating Southern Sudan and the Nuba
region. They have declared 'holly' war on all the African people of the Sudan. These are
their own words. To us the quetion is not whether slavery exists in Sudan but what
humanity can do to stop it immediately.The solution lies in the removal of the present
regime so that a new political dispensation is instituted to resolve the humanitarian,
political, economic and social problems of the Sudan.
March 5, 1996.
SUDAN PEOPLES' LIBERATION MOVEMENT
AND SUDAN PEOPLES' LIBERATION ARMY
Chairman and commander in chief
Dau DECEMBER 31, 1995.
LETTER OF ACCREDITATION
This is to certify that Mr. Stephen Mondu is
appo inted Official Representative of the Sudan
People's Liberation Movement/ Sudan People's
Liberation Army (SPLM/ SPLA ) to the United
States of America and Canada Hith effect from
January 1, 1996.
The SFLM/ SPLA requests foreign Gove rnments ,
o rgan izat ions and ind iv idual s kindly to prov ide
all necessary and possible assistance to Mr.
Stephen Mondu and to accord him the normal
The Chairman and Commander-in-Chief, on behalf
of the people of the Men Sudan and of SPLM/ SPLA
and on his own behalf, appreciates in advance
and in anticipation any assistance and
diplomatic treatment accorded to Mr. Mondu.
DR. JOHN GARANG de MAB i
Chairman/C-in-C, SPLM/ SPLA.
Chukudum , New Sudan.
Question for the Record submitted to
William H. Twaddell, Deputy Assistant Secretary
Bureau of African Affairs
U.S. Department of State
House International Relations Committee
Subcommittee on Africa and Subcommittee on Human Rights
l.Q. What is the United States doing to encourage the
Government of Mauritania to end the vestiges of slavery?
l.A. We use our access to the senior levels of the
Mauritanian government to stress the importance attached to
this issue by the U.S. Government, American citizens, and
non-governmental organizations in the United States.
We have urged the Mauritanian Government to establish an
office within its bureaucracy to investigate and resolve all
allegations of human rights abuses, especially related to
We have stressed on numerous occasions the need for the
government to undertake public education programs and repeat
its programs of the 1980s to inform people of their rights.
We have urged the Mauritanian Government to permit open
discussions on radio and television and in the press on the
vestiges of slavery.
Question for the Record submitted to
William H. Twaddell, Deputy Assistant Secretary-
Bureau of African Affairs
U.S. Department of State
House International Relations Committee
Subcommittee on Africa and Subcommittee on Human Rights
In VOA editorials, we have condemned slavery as the worst
activity of man and called on the Mauritanian government to
take immediate steps to end the vestiges of slavery.
Question for the Record submitted to
William H. Twaddell, Deputy Assistant Secretary-
Bureau of African Affairs
U.S. Department of State
House International Relations Committee
Subcommittee on Africa and Subcommittee on Human Rights
We have encouraged the government to welcome visits by
American and international non-governmental organizations, to
allow them to make their own independent assessments of human
rights in Mauritania, which it has done.
We have urged the Mauritanian Government to review and
respond to the UN's 1984 recommendations on slavery at the
April 1996 session of the UN Human Rights Subcommission.
We have encouraged the government to give official
recognition to non-governmental Mauritanian organizations
concerned with slavery and begin productive and direct
dialogue with its leading human rights and anti-slavery
We have urged the Mauritanian Government to prosecute
vigorously and publicly any individual responsible for forced
labor or mistreatment.
We are urging the Mauritanian Government to facilitate
access to the media by the three organizations which now exist
to deal with the vestiges of slavery.
Question for the Record submitted to
William H. Twaddell, Deputy Assistant Secretary
Bureau of African Affairs
U.S. Department of State
House International Relations Committee
Subcommittee on Africa and Subcommittee on Human Rights
2.Q. What role does color play in determining who is
enslaved in the Sudan and in Mauritania?
2. A. We have no evidence that color plays a role in
determining who is enslaved in Sudan. Rather the determining
factor is membership in a racial, ethnic, or religious
minority, which in Sudan is often indistinguishable by color.
Slavery in Mauritania has existed for centuries among all
ethnic groups, except the Wolof s . The white Moors --an
Arab/Berber people- -enslaved the original inhabitants of the
Sahara as well as people captured during wars with neighboring
ethnic groups. The descendants of these captured people are
now known as Black Moors or Haratine (Literally "Freed
people") . Slavery was also practiced among the southern black
ethnic groups, the Halpulaar and the Soninke , who enslaved
other blacks .
A large percentage of white and black Moors have
ancestors who were Arab/Berbers and ancestors who were members
of various ethnic groups native to Subsaharan Africa. The
skin color of these Moors may vary greatly. We know of no
studies correlating skin color to one's status as a slave,
former slave, or free person..
BOSTON PUBLIC LIBRARY
3 9999 05983
Question for the Record submitted to
William H. Twaddell
Deputy Assistant Secretary
Bureau of African Affairs
U.S. Department of State
House International Relations Committee
Subcommittee on Africa and Subcommittee on Human Rights
3.Q. Does Mauritania have a national program backed with
government funds - similar to the post Civil War effort of the
United States, i.e. The Freedman's Bureau - to end the
legacies and vestiges of slavery and to educate people
regarding their rights? Is the United States providing funds
for such an effort?
3. A. No single official government office dedicated to
ending the vestiges of slavery per se exists, although several
departments within the Mauritanian Government have initiated
education and work programs to assist the poorest and least
educated part of the population- -largely made up of former
slaves and their children. The Energy and Commerce Ministers
are haratines (free men whose ancestors were slaves) . Several
Mauritanian human rights organizations, which focus on issues
related to slavery, are permitted to operate openly in
Mauritania. SOS-Esclaves helps former slaves recover their
property and children. "The National Committee for the
Struggle Against the Vestiges of Slavery" has published a
report on the vestiges of slavery. We are urging the
Mauritanian Government to do more to assist these NGO's in